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  • Author: Pavel Felgenhauer
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: The Second Karabakh War, between Armenia and Azerbaijan, began on September 27, 2020, and ended on November 9, 2020, with a Russian-brokered and guaranteed agreement. The conflict claimed the lives of thousands of Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers. But after 44 days of fierce fighting, it concluded with Yerevan soundly defeated: Armenia lost territory occupied during the First Karabakh War in 1992–1994 as well as over 30 percent of prewar Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast—a region of Soviet Azerbaijan majority populated by ethnic Armenians. Today, the rump self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR or “Artsakh”)—still controlled by Armenians and not recognized by anyone—is fully surrounded by Azerbaijani troops and territory. The rump Karabakh “republic’s” perimeter is guarded by some 2,000 Russian “peacekeepers” who also control the so-called Lachin corridor, the only highway left open from Armenia proper to Karabakh through the city of Lachin. The future of the rump NKR and its Armenian population is unclear. Baku refuses to discuss any special administrative status for the territory, insisting Armenians born in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast or their descendants must disarm and apply for Azerbaijani citizenships to stay as a minority inside Azerbaijan. In turn, the NKR leadership has declared Russian an official language alongside Armenian to avoid use of Azerbaijani Turkish (Izvestia, February 17). Officials in Stepanakert (Khankendi in Azerbaijani) apparently hope this may tempt Moscow to keep its peacekeepers in Karabakh permanently and maybe eventually agree to annex the NKR outright.
  • Topic: Weapons , Conflict, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Eastern Europe, Nagorno-Karabakh
  • Author: Philip Remler
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Over the past decade, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has been returning to its origins as a Cold War–era Conference – a forum where states and blocs, often antagonistic to one another and espousing opposing ideals, can air their frictions and hostilities. The OSCE was created without legal personality and with the liberum veto of the consensus principle. These constraints stunted the growth of executive capabilities and bound the OSCE closely to the will of its participating States. That rendered most mediation efforts ineffective, especially where an OSCE state is both belligerent and mediator in the same conflicts. Peace operations have been more effective – notably the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine – but the same factors have tightly constrained its activity. Though all participating States committed themselves to democratic governance, rule of law and respect for human rights, these ideals failed in much of the former Soviet Union, and autocrats have used the organisation’s lack of legal personality and the consensus principle to hobble the OSCE’s efforts. If the OSCE’s participating States want it to remain an Organization, not a Conference, they must take action to secure its executive autonomy.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Peacekeeping, Democracy, Conflict, OSCE
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Paul A. Goble
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: The Azerbaijani military’s use of Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), purchased from Turkey, played such a prominent role in Baku’s victory over Armenian forces during the Second Karabakh War (September 27–November 9, 2020) that defense analysts around the world are now focusing on how their countries may utilize similar unmanned systems and how they could respond if such drones are used against them (Regnum, accessed December 16; Ecfr.eu., November 24; see EDM, November 9). Notably, Azerbaijan employed its Bayraktars to identify and attack Armenian forces as well as to provide a real-time picture of the battlefield that was useful for both strategic planning and propaganda (see EDM, October 15). Now, Vadim Nozdrya, who heads the Ukrainian arms trade state committee Ukrspetseksport, has announced that Kyiv is prepared to purchase from Turkey 48 of these battle-tested UAVs (Milliyet), December 4). That news is undoubtedly prompting analysts in Moscow to consider how Ukraine could eventually use such drones to threaten Russian control of occupied Crimea or Donbas and what Moscow needs to do in response.
  • Topic: Military Affairs, Weapons , Drones, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Eastern Europe, Azerbaijan, Crimea, Mediterranean
  • Author: Robert E. Hamilton
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The war in the eastern Ukrainian region known as the Donbas has killed over 13,000 people, displaced millions, and led to the worst rupture in relations between the Russian Federation and the West since the end of the Cold War. The war was caused by inherent cleavages in Ukrainian society, combined with clumsy and self-interested intervention by outside powers. The war’s effects on Ukraine have been profound: the collapse of the post-Soviet Ukrainian political elite; billions of dollars in direct and indirect losses to the Ukrainian economy; a wholesale restructuring of the Ukrainian armed forces; social dislocation and psychological trauma; and unprecedented environmental damage. Despite these sad legacies, there are reasons to be optimistic that a settlement to the conflict is in view. The exhaustion and frustration of people in the separatist-controlled regions, Russia’s changing policy on the war—at least in part a result of rising frustration among the Russian public—and the election of a new Ukrainian government without regional ties or ties to networks of oligarchs all contribute to the possibility of peace. But in order for peace to endure after the war, the Ukrainian state must construct a broad-based, civic national identity, and it must tackle the country’s endemic corruption. The international community must be engaged in both crafting a settlement to the war and helping Ukraine deal with its consequences. External observers may be inclined to point to social division and corruption as the internal causes of the war, and argue that Ukraine has to fix itself before the outside world can intervene to help. And this is true as far as it goes. But it is also true that the outside world contributed to the start of war in Ukraine by making the country the object in a geopolitical tussle between Russia and the West. Any honest accounting of the war’s history must acknowledge this fact. And any fair treatment of Ukraine after the war should seek to compensate it through significant, long-term assistance.
  • Topic: War, Territorial Disputes, Conflict, Separatism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Diego A. Ruiz Palmer
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: Russia’s Zapad 17 large-scale exercise, staged in September 2017 in cooperation with Belarus, as part of their combined operational grouping of forces, attracted unprecedented attention in the West. Widespread interest in Zapad 17 reflected a deepening concern even before its conduct that the exercise’s actual purpose and scale did not correspond to the troop size and objective announced by Russia, namely 12,700 Russian and Belarussian troops involved in fighting a postulated terrorist threat. Instead, by all accounts, Zapad 17 was much larger in scale than notified by Russia (60,000-70,000 troops versus 12,700) and oriented to fighting and defeating a capable adversary.1 Zapad 17 was only the latest Russian exercise to generate similar concerns.
  • Topic: Imperialism, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Stepan Grigoryan, Hasmik Grigoryan
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Transatlantic Relations
  • Abstract: This paper is part of CTR's Working Paper Series: "Eastern Voices: Europe's East Faces an Unsettled West." With the growing tension between East and West, and with the rejection by Russia of common international rules, the question how the post-Soviet states should construct their foreign relations remains of utmost importance. Armenia, a landlocked country in the South Caucasus, has yet to accomplish its transition from socialism to democracy and market economy. Moreover, efforts along these lines have regressed, and the authorities do little to implement reforms or to establish a healthy system of checks and balances. In recent months the country has been overwhelmed by protests. The authorities neither address domestic problems nor satisfy protestor demands. Instead the Armenian government frequently resorts to disproportionate use of police forces against peaceful protestors. With political prisoners and hundreds of detained civil activists, journalists and politicians, it will be impossible to build an independent and prosperous country. Armenia has a rich history and culture, but at the same time it has experienced dark historical periods. The Armenian Genocide of 1915 and the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict shape Armenian identity. However, such historical issues have been instrumentalized by the Armenian government. Instead of building the future, Armenian authorities emphasize the past. Policies based on past grievances lead the Armenian government to become more and more dependent on Russia. Armenia needs to tackle corruption, falsified elections, a corrupt judiciary and many other problems -- and Western partners whose efforts are based on democratic values, free and fair elections, and respect towards human rights have a crucial role to play. This chapter offers background on Armenia's relations with various actors, historical matters that shape Armenian identity, and the failure and lack of will to improve the country's current situation. It then discusses the role of the West and its importance for Armenia. We seek to answer why Armenia slowed down its reform efforts, what the West needs to do to improve the situation in Armenia.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Corruption, Genocide, International Cooperation, Reform, Political Prisoners, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eastern Europe, Armenia, European Union
  • Author: Thomas de Waal
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Transatlantic Relations
  • Abstract: This paper is part of CTR's Working Paper Series: "Eastern Voices: Europe's East Faces an Unsettled West." Twenty five years after Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia became independent states, the South Caucasus remains a strategically sensitive region between Europe and Asia, Russia and the Middle East. It is still struggling with the legacy of the conflicts that broke out as the Soviet Union collapsed. Economic development lags behind its neighbors and unemployment and emigration are enduring problems.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Territorial Disputes, Foreign Aid, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eastern Europe, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Syria, South Caucasus, United States of America