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Russia is preparing many scenarios for Ukraine

A conversation with Maria Avdeeva, research director at the European Expert Association in Ukraine. Interviewer: Adam Reichardt

January 19, 2022 - Adam Reichardt Maria Avdeeva

Infrastructural connectivity of the South Caucasus: A chance for a community of interests?

The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has shown the world the anachronistic nature of the problems faced by the politicians, armies and citizens of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, this real and grim conflict that continues to cause tension in the region contrasts greatly with the hopes of many for peace and well-being. The prospects for development, prosperity and peaceful coexistence between the peoples of the Caucasus are still overshadowed by territorial and ethnic conflict. Despite this, they do not match the aspirations and dreams of the societies present in this region.

December 2, 2021 - Mariusz Maszkiewicz

A new corridor, a new impetus

The South Caucasus has serious potential to become a full-fledged logistics hub of regional significance. While opposition to developing a new corridor remains, the potential benefits for all countries in the South Caucasus and beyond will outweigh any costs or perceived risks.

The region of the South Caucasus is located at the intersection of logistics routes leading from north to south and east to west. Of course, the countries of the region are interested in increasing their logistical attractiveness. In this regard, significant funds have been invested in the development of logistics infrastructure over the past ten years. In particular, the Alat port in Azerbaijan was recently built and is now operational. In order to ensure the smooth functioning of the International North-South Transport Corridor, Baku allocated a soft loan to Iran of 500 million US dollars to finance the construction of the Astara-Rasht railway line. The investment was also used for the creation of logistics-related infrastructure to service this line. Azerbaijan took on a long-term lease of the Iranian section of the railway, as well as a railway station and a cargo terminal located there.

December 2, 2021 - Ali Hajizade

The South Caucasus after the Second Karabakh War

The trilateral co-operation format – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – has inexhaustible potential. Of course, not all external players claiming special interests in the region will be happy about this development. However, the time has come to encourage a radical increase in the culture of co-operation and pursue more ambitious goals. This will ultimately lead to the formation of a common vision of regional development as a space belonging to all three of these countries.

Despite the fact that the South Caucasus is undoubtedly a region with clearly delineated natural borders, it can hardly be called a full-fledged region. For almost 30 years after the restoration of independence, the states of the South Caucasus have not used the opportunity to create an integrated space of stability and security. Nor have they been able to provide their populations with decent levels of prosperity and opportunities for economic growth. Today, we instead face a reality marked by dividing lines and alienation.

December 2, 2021 - Valery Chechelashvili

Understanding the Kremlin’s logic after the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

The Kremlin’s rationale for helping end the recent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict also explains its attitude towards transportation infrastructure projects that have appeared as a result of the ceasefire agreement. By understanding the Kremlin’s strategy, as well as the subsequent challenges and risks, other states may be encouraged to develop their own effective counterstrategies.

Only a simplified comparison of the 44-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh with Russian aggression in Ukraine and other parts of the world could confuse readers more than a question of whether the Kremlin experienced a simple victory or defeat in Nagorno-Karabakh. After all, we first ought to know what criteria Moscow may use to judge its actions during the recent war.

December 2, 2021 - Volodymyr Kopchak

The Zangezur corridor: An Azerbaijani perspective

The opening of the Zangezur corridor will play an important role in the security of Azerbaijan’s newly liberated lands. It would cement the implementation of the November agreement and signal that the former status quo is over. This would subsequently help Baku to pursue its most ambitious undertaking in years – rebuilding the war-torn Karabakh region.

The ninth and final clause of the November 10th tripartite ceasefire agreement stated: “All economic and transport links in the region shall be unblocked. The Republic of Armenia shall guarantee the safety of transport links between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic with a view to organising the unimpeded movement of citizens, vehicles and cargo in both directions.” In practice, this condition implied the opening of the so-called “Zangezur corridor” – a 43-kilometre stretch of land along Armenia’s border with Iran. In Soviet times, this area used to provide a road and railway connection between Nakhchivan and mainland Azerbaijan. However, these routes were blocked after a war over Nagorno-Karabakh and its surrounding regions erupted in the early 1990s.

December 2, 2021 - Murad Muradov

The Armenian view on the opening of the South Caucasus after the 2020 Karabakh War

The agreement that ended the 2020 Karabakh War called for transportation links to be put on the geopolitical agenda of the South Caucasus. According to the statement, Armenia should guarantee the security of transport connections between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. However, recent tensions in the Syunik region will likely impact the success of these developments.

The 2020 Karabakh War has caused a significant shift in the geopolitics of the South Caucasus. Azerbaijan naturally strengthened its position, while Armenia was plunged into an acute political crisis without any clear solutions. Even the victory of Nikol Pashinyan’s “Civic Contract” party in the June 2021 early Parliamentary elections did not put an end to the domestic instability. Russia and Turkey have also increased their influence in the region. Moscow achieved its crucial goal of deploying troops in Karabakh, while Ankara has sent a clear message that it is now a leading regional powerbroker.

December 2, 2021 - Benyamin Poghosyan

The position of Georgia within the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Georgia has great interest in advancing peaceful and neighbourly relations with the other countries of the South Caucasus. Now, there is an opportunity to strengthen ties among the three countries. However, a realistic approach towards these relations is needed to achieve modest success in the short and medium-terms.

The main aim of Georgian policy in the South Caucasus is to sustain peace and stability while ensuring neighbourly relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Tbilisi adhered to this approach during the so-called Second Nagorno-Karabakh War last year. In particular, the statement of the National Security Council of Georgia published on October 3rd 2020 serves as a proof of such a commitment. This statement stresses that the active armed conflict should come to an end as soon as possible.

December 2, 2021 - Victor Kipiani

Vladimir the historian: Putin’s political revision of Ukrainian history

For roughly a half a decade now, there has been a radicalising shift in the Kremlin’s understanding of its relations with Ukraine. As Ukraine continues to follow its own path, Vladimir Putin assumes an evermore extreme position that Ukraine, its peoples, language and culture simply do not exist. For Putin, Ukraine has always been and will always be a part of Russia.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s longest-serving president and champion of post-Soviet stability, has accomplished much over the past 21 years. He has delivered Russia from the economic turmoil left by Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, fought and won two wars in Chechnya, and brought unprecedented levels of prosperity and technological development to Russia. He has also defended traditional values the world over, once again placing Russia on the map of the world’s great powers at the expense of democracy and a fruitful relationship with the West. Putin has won many titles for this, including that of the most powerful man on earth, a modern dictator, or the greatest Russian.

December 2, 2021 - Joshua Kroeker

Legacies of the real and imagined Soviet Union 1991–2021

Over the past 30 years, Soviet legacies have persisted in many former Soviet republics and it remains unclear under what conditions they will disappear. Furthermore, the various real and artificially created images of the Soviet Union seem to reinforce each other.

Thirty years have passed since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991. The majority of those born immediately after the end of the USSR have already completed their education, joined the labour force and started a family. As a result, it appears less and less appropriate to refer to countries like Armenia, Kazakhstan or Ukraine as “post-Soviet” countries. Does this mean, however, that we can forget about the Soviet past while trying to understand the political, economic, cultural and social realities in countries that were once part of the USSR? Overall, the legacy of the Soviet Union appears to be more durable and complex than one would expect.

December 1, 2021 - Alexander Libman Anastassia Obydenkova

A History of Europe Fraught in Contradictions: 1989–2021

The peaceful revolutions of 1989 created a new Europe. This Europe is threatened to be lost today – 30 years later. Within the European continent national intolerance and the use of violence are part of everyday life. Politics is becoming more and more intransparent. Are there chances for change? Anyone who subscribes to the values of the Enlightenment is always at the beginning.

On New Year’s Eve 1989 I was standing on Wenceslas Square, Prague, in the midst of a crowd of hundreds of thousands. We were celebrating the country’s recently won freedom and chanted “Václav Havel to the Hradčany” – as president. Only four years earlier, I had been arrested and expelled from the country due to my contacts with civil rights activists. Later, I was in Poland and kneeled at the grave of Jerzy Popiełuszko, the priest who had been murdered by members of the secret police in 1984. In 1988 and 1989 I lived for many months in perestroika Moscow and there, at the very centre of the Soviet empire, I witnessed an exhilarating freedom movement across all countries of the “Warsaw Pact”.

December 1, 2021 - Wolfgang Eichwede

After the Soviet Union: a melancholy of unwanted experiences

When perestroika emerged and the Soviet Union gradually collapsed, a lot of people fell prey to great illusions. Many believed that the disintegration of the Soviet Union would bring the “American Dream” to the desert of post-communism. Inspired by Hollywood movies, they saw capitalism as the road to becoming rich, powerful and independent. But what they missed is that not everyone is happy in Hollywood films.

On the eve of the post-Soviet era, there was a strong belief that everyone would be happy in the new capitalist “paradise”. However, it is clear now that this paradise of capitalism does not and cannot exist. I was a child when communism failed in the Soviet Union and I remember the horrors of the new capitalist order that emerged after communist rule. Of course capitalism produces wealth, but it also has dramatic side effects, such as inequality, social injustice and poverty. In short, capitalism is not a paradise for the many but it certainly is for the few.

December 1, 2021 - Bakar Berekashvili

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