The Policy of the United States in the South Caucasus

Dr. Gayane Novikova
April  20, 2019

Any discussion regarding the current stage of U.S. foreign policy contains more questions than answers. The more recent trend has been determined by the slogan “America First!”, which means on the one hand that the U.S. is moving toward a more isolationistic policy. Steps which aim to serve only American interests can be to some extent provocative and unpredictable: In many cases they can give an impulse to irreversible changes in the security environment in certain regions. On the other hand, there is both a visible and hidden continuity in respect to the main directions and approaches toward the core issues of the American foreign policy.

Chechnya’s Enigma in the Geopolitical Context

Dr. Gayane Novikova
September 21, 2018

The Chechen conflict in Russia and with Russia echoes in many areas of the world. We can trace the Chechen fighters in the Nagorniy Karabakh conflict (where for a short period of time Chechen mercenaries were fighting alongside the Afghani mujaheddins against the local Armenians), in the Abkhazian conflict (where they supported their Abkhazian kin against the Georgian government), in Afghanistan after the U.S. invasion in late 2001, and in the Western Balkans (in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina). Most recently, they were fighting in Ukraine in support of both the Ukrainian and pro-Russian parties to the conflict: The Chechen “Depth battalion” with 300 fighters of were supporting the pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk, and the Dzhokhar Dudayev battalion was fighting on the side of the Ukrainian government.  Chechens were also among the military leadership of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Their nom de guerre, al-Shishani (“Chechen” in Arabic) identifies their ethnicity.

Crimea: Sink or Swim in Russia’s Waters

Dr. Gayane Novikova
June 20, 2018
A transfer of Crimea out of the Russian SSR under the Ukrainian SSR jurisdiction in February 1954 became the cornerstone of an international conflict between two sovereign states immediately after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. A long-term high-intensity hybrid war prepared the foundation for the legal, political, diplomatic, and geopolitical confrontations which transformed into a low-intensity conventional war in mid-February of 2014. Tensions reached their peak on March 16, 2014, when the majority of the population of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea voted for independence from Ukraine. On March 18, 2014, President Putin announced a reunification of Crimea with the Russian Federation. For the rest of the world this action was viewed as an annexation of part of the territory of neighboring Ukraine by Russia, and its incorporation into the Russian Federation.

In Limbo: Russia’s Policy in the Nagorniy Karabakh Conflict

Dr. Gayane Novikova
April 28, 2018

A few introductory remarks

Russia’s involvement in the Nagorniy Karabakh (NK) conflict dates back to the very last years of the Soviet Union, when this conflict erupted on the territory of then-Soviet Azerbaijan. The central authorities of the Soviet Union were unable and unwilling to prevent its transformation into an overt military conflict between the Azerbaijani authorities and the ethnic Armenians, living in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region of Soviet Azerbaijan. Soviet Armenia became an indirect party to this conflict, providing full support to its fellow Armenians. A proclamation of independence by Armenia, Nagorniy Karabakh, and Azerbaijan in the autumn of 1991, and the following three-year war, transformed this conflict into an international one. As a strategic ally of Armenia, a strategic partner of Azerbaijan, and co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia has become (and it has been viewed as) the most active external actor in the NK conflict settlement process.

The Nagorniy Karabakh Conflict: A Simmering War on the European Periphery

Dr. Gayane Novikova
October 21, 2017

Shaping the European Security System

The European security is under siege. Several factors are making it more vulnerable in the face of correlated and co-dependent internal and external threats. The reaction of European societies to major internal threats has been manifest in Brexit, in the German elections, in the referendum on independence in Catalonia and the response of the Spanish government, in the Visegrad Four’s approach to several core issues, in Turkey’s foreign and domestic policies, — and last but not least — in home-grown terrorism. Therefore, while a prevention of uncontrolled migration is a priority and it shapes an internal line of division in many European societies, the vulnerability along the EU’s external borders is a source of growing concern, that has united them.

These developments strongly demand a re-evaluation of the scale of (in)security and threats for each European state and for the European Union in general, especially against the background on the one hand of growing nationalism and, on the other hand, of both an unpredictable U.S. foreign policy and a prolonged standoff with Russia. The EU has become increasingly nervous regarding the U.S. — Russia confrontation that almost completely follows the patterns of the Cold War. In the context of the new Cold War the wars in the immediate (Ukraine) and distant (South Caucasus, Middle East) neighborhoods — where Russia’s direct involvement is evident — demand more attention. A new strategy toward the still unresolved conflicts in the European periphery should be designed based upon an acknowledgement that the security of Europe in broader terms depends in many ways upon the security in its neighborhoods.