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  • Author: Kamran Ismayilov, Konrad Zasztowt
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Azerbaijan recently had to face a wave of criticism from the European institutions (the OSCE and the European Parliament) due to its government’s undemocratic practices. In response, Baku accused its European partners of Islamophobia and declared the suspension of parliamentary cooperation in the framework of the EU’s Euronest. The Azerbaijani ruling elite also blames the West of supporting a “fifth column” in Azerbaijan (meaning civil society organisations) as well as of giving political support to its arch-enemy Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. At the same time authorities in Baku are displaying their developing political partnership with Russia. This paper examines the consequences of the crisis in relations between the EU and Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani-Russian rapprochement for the prospects for EU-Azerbaijan energy projects and regional security in the South Caucasus.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Civil Society, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia, Azerbaijan
  • Author: James Andrew Lewis
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Gulf has become a flashpoint for cyber conflict. Cyberspace has become an arena for covert struggle, with the United States, Israel and other nations on one side, and Iran and Russia on the other. Iran has far outpaced the GCC states in developing its cyber capabilities, both for monitoring internal dissent and deploying hackers to disrupt or attack foreign targets. Several such attacks over the past two years were likely either directed or permitted by Iranian state authorities. Even if Iran holds back from offensive actions as nuclear talks progress, the growth in Iranian capabilities remains a potential security threat for other Gulf states. The GCC countries have begun to develop their defensive capabilities, but they will need to expand their defenses and collaborate more effectively to deter future threats.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Defense Policy, Development, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Kacper Rękawek
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Terrorists constantly seek the spotlight and attacking major sporting events constitutes a seemingly perfect springboard for global notoriety. As the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi are nearing, the global public is understandably concerned about the July 2013 North Caucasian jihadi threats to either disrupt the Games or prevent them altogether. Are the recent Volgograd bombings all the terrorists could muster in anticipation of the Olympics or is there more to come? It is worth analysing some of the options the Caucasus Emirate might be considering in relation to their stated intent to disrupt or force the cancellation of the Olympics. All of the options are derived from information on previous terrorist attacks on other sporting events that could provide clues for counter-terrorism authorities in Russia and neighbouring countries to use when securing these Olympics.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, International Organization, Terrorism, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Gerald Stang
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Russia is often seen as a land of extremes – and the narratives for this month's Winter Olympics in Sochi reflect that view. From the record-length 65,000 km Olympic torch run (which included trips to outer space, the north pole and the bottom of the world's deepest lake) to the incredible $51 billion price tag and the Ian Flemingesque threat of attacks from black widow terrorists, the Sochi games have a distinctly Russian flavour. The Kremlin appears to have envisioned the games as a national triumph, not unlike the 2008 Beijing Olympics, with organisational, architectural and sporting successes that could unite the country. However, with global headlines dominated by stories of corruption, human rights abuses, anti-gay laws and the very real threat of terrorist attacks, one might be forgiven for wondering whether the Russian government regrets its decision to bid for the games.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Political Violence, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Varun Sahni
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The statement by India's national security adviser on March 6th 2014 referring to "legitimate" Russian interest in Ukraine was unsurprisingly criticised in the West, but appreciated in Russia. Most observers missed other important elements in the statement: reference to Ukraine's internal issues; recognition that both Russian and other interests were involved; and emphasis on a peaceful settlement, reconciliation and negotiation. Debate on the Ukrainian crisis has been largely absent in India due to preoccupation with national elections, widespread consensus that Russia is a dependable "friend of India", and sneaking admiration of President Putin for his "decisiveness" in promoting Russia's interests and open defiance of the West. While China and Pakistan have deployed historical/ethno-cultural arguments to dispute Indian sovereignty over territories that India considers its own, India has consistently rejected claims to alter the territorial status quo on grounds of kinship across sovereign borders.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Sovereignty, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, India, Asia
  • Author: Jakob Aarøe Jørgensen
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Leading up to the NATO Summit in September, the crisis in Ukraine has vindicated some NATO members' fears of Russia. This could cause NATO to revert to a narrow focus on Article 5 defense. Yet, other issues still pose threats and NATO should remain vigilant towards security challenges from the Middle East.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Middle East
  • Author: Pinar Dost-Niyego, Orhan Taner
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The recent events in Ukraine have revived the question of European dependence on Russian natural gas. The security of Europe's natural gas supply has been a consistently important issue in Russian-European Union (EU) relations. Russia provided 34 percent of EU gas in 2012, and Russian policies can have a direct impact on EU supplies. After the West-Russian confrontation over Ukraine, a lot has been said about the 'US shale gas revolution' and the possibilities of the United States becoming an energy exporter for future European energy needs. Although US energy independence seems to promise new perspectives for future European energy security, as well as for the balance of power in the Middle East, this is not for this decade. We cannot expect that the European Union would be able to cut off all of its energy relations with Russia, but we can foresee–or at least agree–that the European Union should diversify its natural gas supplies.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Ukraine, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: András Rácz
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The destabilization of Ukraine and the possible escalation of the crisis have presented a direct security risk to the Visegrad countries - Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary - particularly concerning military security, the potential interruption of energy transit, and the possible influx of refugees. These factors have forced the Visegrad states to show unprecedented unity and activism in addressing the crisis. However, regarding the possibility of sanctioning Russia, the Visegrad Group is unable to take a joint position. The main reason for this is that Russia does not pose a direct military threat to the region. Consequently the individual policies of the Visegrad countries towards Russia are defined by a constellation of geopolitical concerns, normative motivations, business interests and domestic political ambitions, which are decidedly different in all four cases. Domestic political motivations, such as the will to increase domestic legitimacy, and concerns over the economic effects of sanctions, obviously influence the foreign policy actions of the Visegrad governments. However, Viktor Orbán of Hungary was the only one to break the Visegrad solidarity on Ukraine with his domestically-motivated remarks in May 2014 and demanding autonomy for Hungarians living in the Trans-Carpathian region. As most normative, business and domestic political motivations are of a lasting strategic nature, it is highly likely that the general incoherence of the Visegrad region regarding Russia will prevail.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, International Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Poland
  • Author: Katri Pynnöniemi
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Three articles written by Russian foreign policy analyst Sergei Karaganov and published at the turning points of the Ukraine conflict shed light on how the reasoning on Russia's strategic interests in Ukraine has evolved amid the conflict. The meaning of the conflict, as explained in the first essay, is that Russia is drawing a line of defence against Western interference in its sphere of interest. In the second essay, the assertion that with the Crimean operation Russia has forced the West to put an end to the Cold War, is reconfigured into a choice that Russia needs to make between the Western or non-Western path. Finally, in an essay written after the downing of flight MH17, it is argued that without de-escalation the situation in Donbass will become a threat to Russian national security. The evolution of the argumentation shows that some sort of 'reality check' has occurred in the vicinity of the general line. However, while the dangers inherent in the conflict are recognized, Karaganov fails to acknowledge Russia's active involvement in the conflict.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Cold War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine
  • Author: Xenia Avezov, Timo Smit
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: The transition towards multipolarity in the international system has concerned many observers in recent years. They fear'an era of disorder and greatly diminished multilateralism owing to miscalculation, uncertainty and distrust between the new and established powers'. This is based partly on the assumption that multipolarity will create competition rather than cooperation as international actors promote or object to intervention in conflicts based on their own geostrategic, economic or political interests.
  • Topic: Security, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Syria