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Author: Tiziano Marino

The Asian front of the war in Ukraine

In the Asia-Pacific region, political and diplomatic actions to isolate Russia by the West are complicated. This is because it is unclear what the United States and the European Union can offer to the many troubled countries in search of cheap raw materials, foreign investments and technology. Washington and Brussels need to realise that the Ukrainian game is played on a global level and requires a much greater effort.

The invasion of Ukraine is generating global consequences that will have a long-term impact on the regional order and the geoeconomics of the Asia-Pacific. In particular, the protracted conflict is causing a deterioration in the economic situation of many South and Southeast Asian countries, which are still trying to recover after two years of the pandemic. The rising cost of raw materials, especially energy commodities, coupled with the blocking of exports of Ukrainian and Russian products, has fostered the emergence of huge trade deficits and soaring inflation throughout the region. The shock was so severe that it even triggered a series of economic crises that quickly turned into political ones undermining regional stability.

September 29, 2022 - Tiziano Marino

Why Russia has very little to offer

Driven by an imperial vision, Russia has always thought of itself as the centre of an empire. After all, it has often ruled over a huge multinational territory and was always militarily stronger than the people who inhabited its sphere of influence. The golden rule for any state holding an imperial vision of inter-state relations is to present itself as the “saviour” of others, and Russia is no exception.

To understand alliances and partnerships, as well as rivalries and conflicts between countries, we often refer to geopolitics and its rules. Attention to the geographical, historical, demographic and economic factors that influence relations between states must not, however, let us forget about the people on the ground. Any alliance or partnership of countries within a sphere of influence should be based on mutual gains for all human beings. Otherwise, it is logical, as well as legitimate, for people to try to circumvent and override the rules of geopolitics. This is exactly what is happening in Russia's European neighbourhood.

April 25, 2022 - Tatevik Hovhannisyan Tiziano Marino

Asian powers entering the South Caucasus: opportunity or threat?

While China struggles to consolidate its economic position in the South Caucasus, Pakistan has cemented its strategic alliance with Azerbaijan. Simultaneously, India has entered a new phase of relations with Armenia. Even though the presence of Asian powers in the region represents an opportunity for economic development, it may also entail some risks.

Asian powers have recently shown increasing interest in the South Caucasus. In particular, Pakistan and India have stepped into the region, joining and partially balancing China's strong presence. Several factors have contributed to the entrance of these new Asian players and this is particularly true regarding the new balance of power established by the 2020 war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. At the same time, the European Union and United States’ lack of engagement with the region has left more room for action by other external powers.

February 15, 2022 - Tiziano Marino

Who benefits from the CSTO?

The CSTO has been promoted as a regional counterpart to NATO ever since its creation in 1992. Despite this, the purpose of the organisation remains unclear, with official talk of mutual defence often giving way to unilateral action in a region still dominated by Russia and its military.

Almost two decades after its establishment, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) remains a difficult entity to define. Although often described as a vehicle for Russian foreign policy and a security guarantee for member states, it is anything but clear how the CSTO serves these purposes. Indeed, Moscow has always preferred to act unilaterally in the face of tensions in the vast Eurasian region, while member states repeatedly invoking the organisation's support have never obtained it. Furthermore, the limitations of the CSTO and the lack of clarity about its actual objectives have made it incapable of attracting new member states. Now that NATO's dramatic withdrawal from Afghanistan has been completed, new challenges await Russia and its partners. Is the CSTO ready?

December 2, 2021 - Tatevik Hovhannisyan Tiziano Marino

Pashinyan, the defeated winner

There is no doubt that Nikol Pashinyan was able to connect emotionally with a section of Armenian society. The repetitive use of the slogans “you are all prime ministers”, “you decide your own future”, “it is all the previous regime's fault” has enabled Pashinyan to quickly win the hearts and minds of the Armenian public. While all these tactics certainly helped Pashinyan to win this snap election, his real achievement was to make Armenians forget about the recent war.

In 1945, Winston Churchill showed the world that winning the Second World War was not enough to get re-elected. More than 70 years later, Armenia has taught another lesson. In June 2021 Nikol Pashinyan, who came to power after the 2018 Velvet Revolution, despite a heavy defeat in Nagorno-Karabakh, managed to win in the snap elections and was confirmed as prime minister. With this victory, Pashinyan was able to falsify the long-standing assumption that losing Karabakh means losing power. How was this possible?

September 12, 2021 - Tatevik Hovhannisyan Tiziano Marino

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