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Privileged Interest? The Russian debate on the South Caucasus - December 2009

Privileged Interest? The Russian debate on the South Caucasus

For centuries, the South Caucasus region, a patchwork of ethnic, linguistic and cultural groups, was the playground of empires – Persian, Ottoman and Russian.  In the early 19th century, the territory of today's Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan was annexed by Tsarist Russia. In 1918, each of the three states declared independence. It was to be short-lived. Soviet rule was imposed in 1920 and the region was all but neglected by the West during the decades that followed.

The South Caucasus returned to the international arena in the early 1990s following the fall of the Soviet Union. Though the collapse of the USSR brought about the independence of all three South Caucasus republics, it also marked the beginning of a severe economic downturn, violent contestation of Soviet-time borders, extreme political tensions, and the displacement of millions of people. 

Russia, however, with its empire gone but many of its imperial entanglements intact, maintained troops on the ground in all three states. This generated the main themes of the current Russian debate on the Caucasus: the fear of losing influence, often allied to a sense of frustration; the belief that control of the Caucasus is vital to Russia's standing as a great power; and a sense of growing rivalry not only with the US but also with the EU in this region.

This picture story highlights some of the main recent themes.

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Privileged Interest? The Russian debate on the South Caucasus

  1. Russia’s dilemma: partnership or empire?
  2. Medvedev and Putin on red lines in the Caucasus
  3. Establishment Debates: CFDP and Russia in Global Affairs
  4. The debate in Russia in Global Affairs
  5. Russia, Georgia, the world in 2009: Sergey Karaganov
  6. The EU, Russia and the Caucasus: Timofei Bordachev
  7. Political Technologists: Gleb Pavlovsky
  8. The Centre for Political Technologies
  9. Alexander Dugin and Eurasianism
  10. Opposition Voices: Garry Kasparov
  11. Russia as Aggressor: the view of Andrei Illarionov
  12. Dissenting voices: Ekho Moskvy and Yulia Latynina
  13. Mainstream views on Russian TV
  14. Judge for yourself: Maxim Shevchenko and the Caucasus
  15. Pavel Felgenhauer and Novaya Gazeta
  16. Masha Lipman and the Carnegie Moscow Centre
  17. The Russian Debate online

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© European Stability Initiative - ESI 2017
6 December 2009, 00:00