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  • Author: Eugene Rumer, Richard Sokolsky, Paul Stronski
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Russia has big Arctic plans, but how they will be realized is uncertain. For the United States this will likely mean the return to a Cold War–like environment rather than a new chapter in great-power competition in the Arctic. Russia’s Arctic ambitions have attracted increasing attention in the West over the past decade as climate change opens up new opportunities in the region for navigation and exploration of its riches. For its part, Moscow casts a wary eye on what it sees as a challenge from the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to its position and ambitions there. The Kremlin’s rhetoric about Western encroachment has become more strident, in sync with its enhanced military posture and ambitious economic and infrastructure projects.
  • Topic: NATO, Cold War, Infrastructure, Geopolitics, Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, North America, Arctic, United States of America
  • Author: Paul Stronski
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Eurasia is squeezed between a rising China and an aggressive and unpredictable Russia. The United States should remain engaged with the region to help it resist Russian advances. Since 2014, Russia has redoubled its efforts to build a sphere of influence, operating frequently under the flag of Eurasian integration. Its undeclared war in Ukraine and hardball tactics vis-à-vis other neighbors demonstrate the lengths to which it is willing to go to undermine their independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. Moscow has pushed hard to expand the membership and functions of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the formal vehicle for cross-regional integration of political and economic activity. However, Russia’s limited economic resources and lack of soft-power appeal; the engagement with the region by other outside powers, including the European Union, China, Turkey, and the United States; and societal change in neighboring states are creating significant long-term obstacles to the success of Russian neo-imperialist ambitions and exposing a large gap between its ends and means. Russia’s ambitions in Eurasia are buffeted by unfavorable trends that are frequently overlooked by analysts and policymakers. Russia’s own heavy-handed behavior contributes to both regional upheaval and instability as well as to the creation of diplomatic headwinds that constrain its own room for maneuver.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Dario Cristiani
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Russia’s return as a major geostrategic actor in the Mediterranean is one of the most significant trends characterising this area over the past few years. Part of a broader geopolitical pluralization of this space, Russia’s 2015 intervention in Syria marked a new phase in Moscow’s Mediterranean engagement. Based on a stringent logic of intervening where other powers leave strategic vacuums, Russia has succeeded to carve out an increasingly central role in Mediterranean equilibria, despite its limited resources. Russian diplomatic and economic support for the Syrian regime in Damascus had steadily increased since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in 2011. Yet, it was Moscow’s direct military intervention in September 2015 that signalled a decisive upgrade in engagement. Moscow’s military involvement shifted the tide of the conflict, proving decisive in avoiding the collapse of the Syrian regime, which is also backed by Iran and the Lebanese group Hezbollah.
  • Topic: Civil War, Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Economy, Military Intervention, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Ekaterina Stepanova
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: As Russia has become a major external player in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region due to its military engagement in Syria since 2015, it has acted as a balancer and mediator in several regional controversies and has continued to serve as a security guarantor for the Syrian state. This course has brought Moscow some practical dividends, such as growing economic and military-technical cooperation with select MENA countries, and has spurred its broader international profile. However, entering the 2020s, the risks of more active engagement in the Middle East have also mounted, making Russia’s balancing act more difficult. In three cases where Russia’s involvement has been visible (Syria, Libya and the Israeli-Palestinian problem), evolving developments challenge Moscow’s acquired influence and multi-vector approach, but also create new opportunities for its engagement and mediation. Above all, the 2020 US–Iran crisis catalysed the urgent need for structured regional dialogue, especially across the Persian Gulf. While this requires direct interaction between the region’s main antagonists, the initial impulse to unlock the trans-Gulf impasse might need to come from the outside. A process-oriented blueprint for inclusive multilateral security in the Gulf proposed by Russia in 2019 is a step in the right direction, but to be activated it may need to come as part of some broader international initiative.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Israel, Libya, Palestine, North Africa, Syria
  • Author: Alexander Sergunin
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: This DIIS Report identifies Russian national interests in the BSR (Baltic Sea Region) and discusses whether there are continuities and changes in these interests in the post-Crimea era. The Russian discourse on the BSR is explored, including Russian foreign policy schools and official foreign policy and national security doctrines. Different aspects of Moscow’s BSR strategy - political, economic, sub-regional, environmental and military - are examined. The chances for Russia’s participation in the BSR multilateral cooperative framework are assessed. This DIIS Report authored by Alexander Sergunin, professor at St. Petersburg State University, is an outgrowth of a defence and security project on 'The Baltic Sea Region after Crimea and Trump' with Sergunin and Hans Mouritzen, senior researcher at DIIS, as participants (see also DIIS Working Paper 2019:1).
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, National Security, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Crimea, Baltic Sea
  • Author: David Carment
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: Today’s geopolitical conflicts, especially among great powers, involve a desire to fundamentally revise the order of alliances as well as solidify new norms of conduct. The purpose of our paper is to delineate two distinct phenomena in international affairs – hybrid warfare, which emphasizes the tactical level and grey-zone conflicts, which incorporates a long-term strategic dimension into international disputes. We argue that hybrid warfare can be a tactical subset of grey-zone conflict deployed under certain conditions and in varying degrees. We examine four case studies: China’s application of ‘unrestricted warfare’, Russia’s strategy of ‘hybrid balancing’, ‘regional hybridism’ practiced by Israel and ‘restricted hybridism’ applied by Canada/NATO globally. We conclude that the solution to challenges from Russia and China is not a military one but a political and collective one based on baseline requirements for building resilience. Israel, on the other hand, is largely uninterested in the revision of order of alliances and will continue to utilize its tactical advantage vis-à-vis regional neighbors to achieve victories in short conflicts. We conclude that NATO (and Canada) should work more closely with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the European Union to effectively extend security guarantees to its members. In doing so Canada and likeminded countries will involve the costs of engaging in hybrid warfare and the subsequent erosion of democratic accountability.
  • Topic: NATO, War, Geopolitics, Hybrid Warfare
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Middle East, Canada, Israel, Asia
  • Author: Muharrem Erenler
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: BILGESAM (Wise Men Center for Strategic Studies)
  • Abstract: One of the regions where Russia‟s interests are constant and historic is the Middle East, which has been being shaken by revolutions and insurgencies since January 2011. Being hesitant between supporting the desire of protestors to overthrow their long-ruling leaders and aligning with the stable authoritarian regimes of the Middle East, Russia has so far failed to adopt a consistent policy. Moreover, by following a low profile policy, Moscow seems indifferent to using the regimes changes as an opportunity to penetrate the region and revive its wading influence in the Middle East. Russia‟s inflexible foreign policy mentality, secondary importance of the Middle East in Russian foreign policy, perception of Arab Spring as a tool of outside powers, and the unrest it could arouse in motherland (as well as near abroad) could account for Moscow‟s reluctance to adopt a proactive role in reorganization of the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Authoritarianism, Geopolitics, Arab Spring, Strategic Stability
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Arab Countries