Realignment in the Caucasus

Image: Travelpleb/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the World Policy Institute on 22 April 2015.

An April 2 meeting between the defense ministers of Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan might have easily passed as routine. Yet in a region like the Caucasus, fraught with deeply entrenched interstate rivalries, this summit could hardly be described as inconsequential. At the meeting, Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov identified Armenia as a regional threat, remarking that it “is the only state in the region which lays territorial claims to our countries.” The same day, Russian fighter jets stationed in Armenia began three-day drills. Though these two events probably coincided by chance, they illustrate two distinct – potentially competing –  regional orders in the South Caucasus: a deepening Turkey-Georgia-Azerbaijan coordination and a historic Russian presence represented by the Kremlin’s close alliance with Armenia. » More

‘Hybrid War’ and ‘Little Green Men’: How It Works, and How It Doesn’t

Masked soldiers in Crimea. Image: E. Arrott/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 16 April 2015. It is an excerpt from E-IR’s Edited Collection “Ukraine and Russia: People, Politics, Propaganda and Perspectives”.

When Russian special forces seized Crimea at the end of February 2014, without their insignia, but with the latest military kit, it seemed as the start of a new era of warfare. Certainly, the conflict in Ukraine has demonstrated that Moscow, in a bid to square its regional ambitions with its sharply limited resources, has assiduously and effectively developed a new style of ‘guerrilla geopolitics’ which leverages its capacity for misdirection, bluff, intelligence operations, and targeted violence to maximise its opportunities. However, it is too soon to declare that this represents some transformative novelty, because Moscow’s Ukrainian adventures have not only demonstrated the power of such ‘hybrid’ or ‘non-linear’ ways of warfare, but also their distinct limitations. » More

What Do Brazilian Admirals Want? Not a Quiet Expansion!

A Brazilian submarine docking at a port. Image: Edoardo Pelosi/Flickr

This article was originally published by Security Dilemmas on 22 April, 2015 and has also been published on Daniel Rio Tinto’s blog Imminent Crisis.

The Swiss blog Offiziere.ch has recently published a piece by Paul Pryce, analysing the Brazilian Navy’s current endeavours whilst trying to figure out what bearing it is sailing. Pryce evaluates the ‘quiet expansion’ of the Brazilian Navy, and whilst he delivers a brief but sound level of analysis, he fails to deliver an accurate reading of some of the key underlying issues. These issues include the ‘military industrial compound’ dimension of the Navy, the often unspoken aspects of civil-military relations in Brazil and the competition for budget between branches. » More

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Blue Helmets: Why Europe Should Contribute More Troops to the UN

Italian UN soldier with the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon. Image: www.esercito.difesa.it/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by Europe’s World on 9 April, 2015.

As tens of thousands of Western troops have withdrawn from Afghanistan in recent months, there remains a pressing need for peacekeeping troops in many other unstable parts of the world.

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador at the United Nations, recently asked Europe to contribute more UN peacekeeping troops. This may sound ironic as the United States stopped providing Blue Helmets after the 1993 debacle in Somalia, which cost the lives of 43 U.S. soldiers. Europe, however, should answer the American call. Studies show the deployment of peacekeeping troops can diminish the chance of renewed conflict by 80%. In recent examples, UN Blue Helmets have calmed the situation in northern Mali and prevented atrocities in the Central African Republic. » More

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Everyday Life after Annexation: The Autonomous Republic of Crimea

Signing of the treaty on the adoption of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol to Russia. Left to right: S. Aksyonov, V. Konstantinov, V. Putin and A. Chalyi. Image: Kremlin.ru/Wikimedia

This article was originally published as part of the ‘Ukraine and Russia’ Collection by E-International Relations on 20 March, 2015.

Imagine for a moment that tanks roll into your state. Armed and masked men without military insignia occupy your city streets. The airport is closed. Then, after a hasty vote, a new leader, someone you understood was part of the criminal underworld, is promoted to the top executive position. Suddenly, you must turn your clocks back two full hours to correspond with the new capital, some 1,400 kilometres away. Your ATM card stops working, and then your bank closes. Familiar foods, foods you have been eating your entire life, are banned and disappear from grocery store shelves to be replaced with foreign ones. Your medication becomes six times more expensive than before. Then your cell phone stops working, and you must find a new carrier to regain service. The television station you relied on for nightly news closes. You are told you have three months to turn in your passport for a new one, or you may not be able to renew your driver’s license or return to your home after travel. This chaotic and liminal situation is not, of course, hypothetical. It is what happened to residents of Crimea following annexation by the Russian Federation. » More

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