20 Years of Leading Analysis
 
  • Echoes of the Ukraine Crisis in the South Caucasus

    Posted by: Maxim Suchkov October 24, 2014

    As the Ukraine puzzle slowly and steadily enters the diplomatic realm, at least three obvious yet critical facts can be ascertained: the crisis has proven the European security system ineffective, severely damaged Russia-West relations and left diplomacy in a gridlock, and made the Belavezha Accords obsolete. Echoes of these consequences will be long felt across Eurasia.

    Certain shockwaves have already reached the South Caucasus, one of the regions most susceptible changing dynamics between Russia and the West.

    First, a great deal of skepticism about the capability of European institutions to fix conflicts in the post-Soviet space is now prevailing among South Caucasian elites. Ironically, this understanding serves to deter violence in the region: responsible stakeholders in Tbilisi, Yerevan and Baku have realized that if there should be serious warfare in the region there will be no international institutions powerful enough to stop it, or any great European powers ready for head-on military collision to defend their clients' interests.

    The Ukrainian crisis has shown that deciding between European and Eurasian integration comes at a high price.
     
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    At the same time, the South Caucasian states have found themselves between the devil and the deep blue sea: the Ukrainian crisis has shown that deciding between European and Eurasian integration comes at a high price, but that indecisiveness is an even worse path. Thus, the startling developments in Ukraine have triggered two opposite processes: on the one hand, they have accelerated Georgia and Moldova’s efforts to integrate into Euro-Atlantic institutions. On the other hand, the Ukraine crisis has pushed Armenia to seek full membership in the Eurasian Union and encouraged Abkhazia and South Ossetia to forge closer ties with Russia.

    The domestic support for Eurasian integration in Armenia, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia seems to have been spurred by a resurgence of national identity. All three have a common cause: historical reunification, an idea reenergized by “the Crimea precedent.” Armenian supporters of Eurasian integration have projected “re-incorporation of the Crimea into Russia” onto the disputed territory of the Nagorno Karabakh, suggesting that it is a precedent for reunification of Armenia’s historical lands. Supporters of integration in South Ossetia hope that it might use the same logic to reincorporate those territories into Russia.

    When power politics are at play, smaller states often scramble to side with great powers. But those who expect the tit-for-tat game between Russia and the West to continue have opted to maneuver between the two. Azerbaijan has chosen this path, floating between East and West in its stance toward the crisis in Ukraine, and reaffirming its commitment to multi-vector diplomacy. Yet the time may come for Baku to make hard choices as well.

    Finally, the crisis in Ukraine has had a remarkable impact on the South Caucasus. Although it may not yet be fully recognized, the transformed realities of Eurasian geopolitics have surely revived the idea that there are distinct geopolitical zones—daily bread for political and academic hardliners who love to ponder what this might mean for the Caucasus.

    They say when the going gets tough the tough get going. Russia may look like it has gone through the tough part in the Ukraine crisis, but whatever further moves it makes in the diplomatic game of chess, it should understand the impact on its policy in Eurasia. The consequences are already looming in the horizon.

    Maxim A. Suchkov, PhD, a former Fulbright visiting fellow at Georgetown University (2010–11), is currently a contributor to Al Monitor (Russia Pulse) and fellow at the Institute for Strategic Studies (Pyatigorsk).

     
     
     
  • Eurasia and the ASEM Summit

    Posted by: Richard Youngs Thursday, October 23, 2014

    It would be a stretch to think that ASEM can foster any kind of benign diplomatic triangle between the EU, Russia, and Asian powers. However, ASEM may survive as an interesting mix of debating club, retreat and venue for bilateral meetings.

     
     
  • Games of Bluff in Moldova

    Posted by: Thomas de Waal Wednesday, October 22, 2014

    The biggest current dangers for Moldova lie not in the unresolved Transnistria conflict, but in domestic Moldovan politics.

     
     
  • Ukraine Election Countdown: 5 Days Remaining

    Posted by: Yuliya Bila, Isaac Webb Tuesday, October 21, 2014

    With less than a week left until the Ukrainian parliamentary elections, there is growing uncertainty about whether the new parliament will provide a boost to President Petro Poroshenko's flagging reform agenda and attempts to manage the extremely fragile situation in the east.

     
     
  • A Hereditary Disease

    Posted by: Mikhail Krutikhin Tuesday, October 21, 2014 1

    The old Soviet “enemies-are-everywhere” mentality frequently leads Russian decision makers to losses and defeat.

     
     
  • Paying for Ukraine

    Posted by: Dmitri Trenin Monday, October 20, 2014 1

    If Ukraine is allowed to become a failed state, the consequences for Europe will be serious, even dire. Making sure that Ukraine keeps itself warm this winter is an absolutely necessary step.

     
     
  • For Russia, Asia Is No Substitute for the West

    Posted by: Akio Kawato Thursday, October 16, 2014

    Facing Western sanctions, some Russian pundits are rushing to find an easy way out through increased cooperation with Asia. However, nothing can replace the West for Russia.

     
     
  • East or West, Home Is Best

    Posted by: Mikhail Krutikhin Wednesday, October 15, 2014

    Moscow’s most recent, failed attempt to cooperate with China on the Altai gas pipeline shows that its political ambitions are not compatible with elementary arithmetic.

     
     
  • The West Should Not Reject Russia’s Assistance in Afghanistan

    Posted by: Petr Topychkanov Tuesday, October 14, 2014 1

    If common sense prevails and the West resumes its cooperation with Russia, the consolidated response to security threats in Afghanistan will be far more effective than the current disjointed efforts by various countries.

     
     
  • Indian Summer: Ukraine Before the Elections

    Posted by: Balázs Jarábik Monday, October 13, 2014 2

    Forthcoming elections give Ukraine a feeling of hope. However, for most Ukrainians the optimistic political advertisements contrast sharply with their own experiences. The war in the Donbas and the worsening economic and social situation are likely to bring more people to the parliament with no appetite for dialogue.

     
     

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