Crisis in the Near Abroad: Russia’s military build-up, and its place in the post-Soviet story

The West must accept that Russia will continue to speak for its own people in a world it considers unfair.

Russia’s relationship with Europe appears to be falling apart at a worrying pace. Events seem to be moving so quickly that it seems inevitable that the contents of this article will be incomplete by the time anybody reads it. In recent weeks, Joe Biden has ordered new sanctions on Russia, hunger-striking opposition leader Alexei Navalny is reportedly close to death, Russia has increased its military presence on its border with Ukraine, and revelations have shown that the perpetrators of the 2018 Salisbury Poisoning were also linked to a bomb blast in the Czech Republic in 2014. 

Continue reading “Crisis in the Near Abroad: Russia’s military build-up, and its place in the post-Soviet story”

Remnants of Soviet Imperialism in Russian Identity: Assessing the Annexation of Crimea Seven Years On

After the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the post-Soviet space faced both a political and an identity vacuum. While several of the newly independent states sought to redefine their foreign policies and forge new relations with the West, Russia struggled to redefine its identity as the successor of the Soviet Union. The new Russian Federation was simultaneously tasked with addressing geopolitical concerns of Western influence in the region as well as tackling Soviet nostalgia within its identity formulation. In fact, this Soviet nostalgia, coupled with the threat of Western interference, led Russia to adopt a strategy of maintaining deliberate control over the post-Soviet states. Ukraine, having both geographical as well as cultural significance for Russia, became crucial for the articulation of a post-Soviet Russian identity. Russia has, thus, adopted a two-pronged approach to its involvement in Ukraine: thwarting Western influence in the region and advocating an Eastern Slavic identity that premises a union between Ukrainians and Russians.

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New Faces on Old Tensions: Understanding the Decline of EU-Russian Relations

Following the fall of the Soviet Union’s European empire in 1989, there was some hope within security circles that the end to near-constant confrontation and conflict in Europe had finally been achieved. In 1991, three quarters of a century had passed since the outbreak of the First World War; very few in government could remember a time when the threat of continent-wide conflict was lower than in that year.

The newly-formed European Union (EU) saw the potential to establish a new security situation on the continent; as late as 1999, the EU declared it its aim to see “a stable, democratic, and prosperous Russia…governed by the rule of law and underpinning a prosperous market economy”. Fifteen years later, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill incorporating Crimea into the Russian Federation, directly violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in the process. So what happened? How, in less than two decades, did we get from the end of history to the new Cold War?

Continue reading “New Faces on Old Tensions: Understanding the Decline of EU-Russian Relations”

The European Union’s Refugee Crisis: A Way Forward

On Friday 16th October, the King’s Think Tank launched its first event of the year, a panel discussion focusing on ‘Europe’s Migrant Crisis’. The panel included Dr Jeff Crisp, a Research Associate at the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre; Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London; Mr James Mates, Europe Editor of ITV News and Jakob Muratov, President of the European Affairs Policy Centre at the Think Tank. The vibrant discussion covered the impact of mass migration with regards to the migrants themselves, border control and the necessary response to overcome the problems facing Europe.

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NATO and an Ethical Foreign Policy: A Reply

A few weeks ago, in our first blog of the academic year, Steven Male compellingly argued for a more ethical foreign policy, and posited several suggestions as to how this may be achieved under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party. Within this piece however, there was one aspect that I found myself fundamentally disagreeing with – the idea that membership, and unquestioning support, of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), was absolutely key to any ethical foreign policy. I felt this played into the common, and flawed, assertion that Putin’s Russia is an expansionist, imperialist power bent on world domination, and that only NATO’s expansion could stop it. I, and in fact many pre-eminent scholars on Russia, including McCgwire, Rynning, and Karabeshkin, disagree with this, both on the idea that Russia is indulging in unprovoked expansion, and that NATO is either a protector of European security or an ethical body. This author believes that if NATO is to perform as an ethical body in foreign policy, or represent a genuine protector of European security, it must undergo a process of self-examination of its actual effectiveness, and a reappraisal of its behaviour. Continue reading “NATO and an Ethical Foreign Policy: A Reply”

European Eastern Partnership and the Ukraine Crisis

On 3 March 2015, King’s College London held an event about the conflict between the EU’s Eastern Partnership vs. Russia’s Eurasian Union. David Cadier, Fellow in International Strategy and Diplomacy at the London School of Economics (LSE), presented his thoughts on the issue and emphasized the need to move beyond the power-bloc narrative in order to better understand the Ukraine crisis and to reform the European Neighbourhood Policy. Continue reading “European Eastern Partnership and the Ukraine Crisis”

The Institutional Relationship between the EU and the East: Is Europe in Critical Condition?

On Tuesday, February 10th, a launch event was held at the UK Parliament in order to commemorate the first issue of the publication Trouble in the Neighbourhood. The journal focuses on the complex range of policy issues that Europe is facing, and it poses creative solutions to the region’s complex problems. The publication is just one aspect of the Foreign Policy Centre’s new project, which encourages think tanks and universities to craft policy recommendations and to engage in the broader European community. Continue reading “The Institutional Relationship between the EU and the East: Is Europe in Critical Condition?”