Wednesday, 26 August 2015 00:00

Russia vs. EU/US through Georgia and Ukraine

This paper aims to analyze the construction and transformation of the post-Soviet security perspectives of Georgia and Ukraine in the context of the post-Soviet Russian foreign policy in the “near abroad,” quite often termed the “legitimate sphere” of Russian influence by high-ranking Russian officials. This inquiry covers the panorama of the foreign policy in post-Soviet Russia across the FSU, from the early 1990s through to the present, where Georgia and Ukraine’s independent and pro-Western orientation are the
main issues securitized for the Russian Federation. Accordingly, the maintenance of territorial integrity has become a security priority for Georgia since the early 1990s and will most likely be Ukraine’s top concern after the Crimean occupation by the Russian Federation in March 2014 and the subsequent developments in Eastern Ukraine. Therefore, it could be claimed that post-Soviet Russian and Georgian/Ukrainian security strategy (following peaceful revolutions) represent a zero-sum game.

The aim of this paper is to analyze the impact of political developments in Georgia since the 2012 parliamentary elections on Russo-Georgian relations. First, the authors examine the effect of changes in Georgia’s politics towards the Caucasus, Russia and the Euro-Atlantic region. Second, the authors analyze the opportunities for improving Russo-Georgian relations through studying the three following aspects of this bilateral relationship: creation of common economic space between Russia, Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia; transformation of the Georgian North Caucasus Policy and its shift to-wards cooperation with Moscow; and implications of Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration for the regional security. The article suggests that Russo-Georgian relations are not doomed to be strained and have the potential for improvement.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015 00:00

Russia and the Arab Spring

The Russian attitude to the Arab Spring—a mixture of skepticism, caution and mis-trust—was for a long time poorly understood outside the country. In the West, which initially saw in the Arab Spring the familiar battle between “democracy from below” and “dictatorship from above,” many accused Moscow of sympathizing with outdated au-thoritarian regimes, even facilitating their behavior, and of being incapable of keeping up with the times.
Later, the situation changed. As democratic revolutions were replaced by civil con-flicts (some more peaceful, others more bloody, all exacerbated by ethnic or religious differences) Russia’s conservative position started to find support, both within the Mid-dle East and beyond. The breakthrough Russo-American agreement on Syrian chemical weapons opened the door to the Geneva II talks, bringing factions within Syria to the same talks table, and also helping regulate the Iranian nuclear issue.
To understand the factors that shaped the Russian attitude to the Arab Spring, we need to review recent Russian history and how the situation has changed Russia’s bor-ders. In this article, we will attempt to circumscribe these factors, and offer insights into their true nature.

In the Lopota Valley, a picturesque spot situated near Georgia’s mountainous northeast border with Russia’s Dagestani autonomous region, a series of skirmishes took place on the 28th and 29th of August 2012 that cost the lives of two troops from elite units of the Georgian Ministry of the Interior, a military doctor, and eleven gunmen identified as North Caucasus Islamist insurgents, leaving a few Georgian military personnel injured and one insurgent, a Russian citizen, captured by Georgian special forces. While the circumstances of what happened in the vicinity of the north Kakhetian village of Lapankuri have not yet been sufficiently revealed, the event might have considerable implications for the security situation in the entire region of the North and South Caucasus. The purpose of this article is to analyze various perspectives and issues related to this incident and to prove that the hostage crisis in the Lopota Valley indicates the existence of and the foreshadowing of much greater regional instability. The article shall outline the general course of events and those responsible for the incident. It will then introduce various perspectives on the incident from Georgian, Russian, and Dagestani authorities and sources, and analyze the short-term and long-term implications of the incident.
Each instance of communication via the Internet depends on the transfer of confidential, readily available, and authenticated information. If this information is read, altered, or forged in any way, it jeopardizes the secure and safe operation of any service depending on the transfer of data. Thus, the exploitation of data can be leveraged in ways that can have devastating effects on modern societies. The problem with a networked society is that the international conventions on the use of force fail to sufficiently safeguard the world from the instability caused by computer attacks. This article seeks to remedy the situation by defining what kinds of actions carried out via computerized networks constitute a use of armed force or armed conflict. This article applies the existing Laws of Armed Conflict (LOAC) to three cases of computer-based attacks carried out by nation-states. In doing so, the aim is to highlight the legal limitations on actions that can be taken to respond to computer attacks.
It is no secret that NATO exerts global influence, and is an organization without which the international security architecture would be difficult to imagine. Its capacity to exert influence ranges from the very material dimension of military power to the elusive and intangible effects of functional professionalization. Its unifying power was recognized long before the fall of the Berlin Wall, motivating Karl Deutsch to assign to it the quality of the “Community” in the North Atlantic area. The paradigm of the Cold War heavily influenced the way scholarship evaluated the Alliance. Despite numerous and valuable attempts, the majority of academic contributions to the study of NATO remained policy-driven. The discussion was subsumed by broader regional security studies and
international relations scholarship that repeatedly brought up the question of the Alliance’s organizational purpose and durability, leaving other significant questions unexamined. This article will attempt to address the existing scholarly deficit by focusing on a particular aspect of NATO analysis: the Alliance’s capacity to influence aspirant countries’ policy making (formulation and implementation) in the defense area and, by doing that, to ensure compliance with commonly agreed norms and standards.
 
The case of Georgia would serve here as the best example of a country that eagerly stated its willingness to join NATO (as early as the Prague Summit in 2002) and since then has firmly followed the chosen path towards full membership.