The following is a guest post by political scientists Brandon Valeriano (University of Glasgow) and Ryan C. Maness (Northeastern University).
Debates about the origins of Russia’s intervention into Ukraine have typically taken as given Russia’s position as a muscular, capable regional power, engaged in what Realists regard as power maximization. This perspective suggests the moves by Russia were caused by external forces and NATO’s move east, with conquest of the former Soviet space an inevitable response. Critics of this perspective suggest that Russia’s aggression was motivated either by the price of oil or domestic concerns, but nonetheless with Russian power on display. When we consider the outcomes of past episodes of Russian aggression, however, a very different conclusion appears warranted: the Russian state actually appears to be both a relatively weak and restrained power that struggles to assert hegemony in post-Soviet space.
It may be paradoxical to consider a state restrained when it has (unofficially) sent troops into Ukraine, invaded Georgia (2008), made antagonistic moves toward Estonia (2007) and recently blatantly threatened Denmark with nuclear weapons. The key, however, is to examine how coercive power is actually used, as we do in our soon-to-be released book, “Russia’s Coercive Diplomacy: Energy, Cyber, and Maritime Policy As New Forms of Power.“ In examining Russia’s use of cyber and energy power, we find the state doing almost the least it can do, and often failing to achieve the desired outcomes.
In 2007, Russia showed its capabilities in cyberspace when the Estonian government decided to move a Soviet era WWII soldiers’ grave marker from the center square of the capital Tallinn to the outskirts of the city. Seen as an insult to Russian pride, this action led to a flood of DDoS cyber incidents which bombarded Estonian private and government Web sites, disrupting commerce and government functionality for about two weeks. By 2008, in large part in response to the incident, Estonia became firmly entrenched as the headquarters for NATO’s cyber defense. The grave marker was never moved back into town, and the actions lead to the Baltic state completely removing itself from Russia’s sphere of influence — hardly a success for showing the coercive nature of Russian power.
An elderly Catholic priest reportedly died from the COVID-19 coronavirus after refusing a ventilator so that a younger patient could use it instead. Don Giuseppe Berardelli, 72, died March 15 at a hospital in Lovere, Italy after declining to use the medical equipment that his parishioners were...( ) Read all
The African saxophone legend Manu Dibango has died in Paris after catching coronavirus. Dibango – best known for his 1972 song Soul Makossa – is one of the first global stars to die from Covid-19. The 86-year-old fused jazz and funk music with traditional sounds from his home...( ) Read all
The lockdown in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the global coronavirus outbreak began, will be partially lifted on 8 April, officials say. Travel restrictions in the rest of Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, will be lifted from midnight on Tuesday - for residents who are healthy. A...( ) Read all
A prankster is facing up to five years in prison for causing panic on the Moscow underground. That’s the high price he may yet pay for an ill-conceived attempt to turn Chinese coronavirus hysteria into online likes. A young man in a black tracksuit and a face mask was walking along the...( ) Read all
On 20 March 2020, through a written procedure replacing the 122th Plenary Session of the Venice Commission due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Venice Commission adopted a joint opinion, together with the Council of Europe’s Directorate of Human Rights on draft constitutional amendments...( ) Read all
Coronavirus has killed more people in Italy than in any other country, after deaths there rose by 427 in a day. The number of deaths now stands at 3,405, which is more than in China where the virus originated last year. There have been 3,245 reported deaths in China, but there have been...( ) Read all
“My name is Lilya Moraru. I am 29 years old and I am a fashion designer from Republic of Moldova. „PANIC ATTACK” is the motto of a collection about personality disorders and their integration into society. Of the myriad of mental health problems, panic attacks are the most...( ) Read all
Russian media have deployed a “significant disinformation campaign” against the West to worsen the impact of the coronavirus, generate panic and sow distrust, according to a European Union document seen by Reuters.( ) Read all
The number of people dying from coronavirus in Italy has risen by 475 in one day to nearly 3,000 - the biggest increase since the outbreak. There are a total of 35,713 confirmed cases in the country, with more than 4,000 having successfully recovered. Lombardy, the worst-hit region,...( ) Read all
With hundreds of millions of people now isolating themselves around the world, the novel coronavirus pandemic has become a truly global event. And while its geopolitical implications should be considered secondary to matters of health and safety, those implications may, in the long term,...( ) Read all
The Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) and the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM) formed a majority in the Parliament of Moldova. It was unexpected, since the two parties were considered antagonists, if not totally, then at least in matters of the country's foreign policy....( ) Read all
Russian pro-Kremlin media have mounted a “significant disinformation campaign” to aggravate the coronavirus pandemic crisis in western countries by destroying confidence in the emergency response, according to an internal EU report.( ) Read all
The Irish prison service gave prisoners antiseptics for hands without alcohol, despite the fact that they are less effective against the coronavirus. And all because of antiseptics containing alcohol, prisoners use to brew “moonshine”, writes with reference to prison service of the...( ) Read all
The first human trial of a vaccine to protect against pandemic coronavirus has started in the US. Four patients received the jab at the Kaiser Permanente research facility in Seattle, Washington, reports the Associated Press news agency. The vaccine cannot cause Covid-19 but contains a...( ) Read all
Kristofer Hivju, best known for playing the formidable, bearded Tormund on “Game of Thrones,” is the latest actor to test positive for the coronavirus. Hivju revealed the diagnosis in an Instagram post, saying that he is currently self-quarantining with his family in Norway.( ) Read all
Medicago, a biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Quebec City, announced today that they have successfully produced a Virus-Like Particle (VLP) of the coronavirus just 20 days after obtaining the SARS-CoV-2 (virus causing the COVID-19 disease) gene. Production of the VLP is the first...( ) Read all
President Vladimir Putin has said the situation with the coronavirus in Russia is "under control". Borders are closed, mass gatherings have been banned and increasing restrictions have put in place to slow the spread of the virus.( ) Read all
Saudi Arabia's bloated budget means it's not really a low-cost producer. That's why any race to the bottom will be difficult to win. In a war of attrition, the winner isn’t the force with overwhelming power, but the one with the greatest capacity to sustain damage.( ) Read all
In the heady aftermath of the Cold War, American policymakers pronounced one of the fundamental concepts of geopolitics obsolete. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described a new world “in which great power is defined not by spheres of influence . . . or the strong imposing their will on...( ) Read all