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.
Move by pro-EU Prime Minister to turn August 23 into a day of remembrance for victims of totalitarianism may trigger an ideological fight with her pro-Russian coalition partners – who celebrate the victory in 1944 of the Soviet Red Army on that day.( ) Read all
Sept. 1 marks the 80th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland — an event that heralded the beginning of World War II. Two years later, the United States entered the war as an ally of both Great Britain and the Soviet Union. By that time, France and numerous other...( ) Read all
One of the most celebrated diplomats of his generation, Richard Holbrooke helped normalize U.S. relations with China; served as U.S. ambassador to a newly reunified Germany and then to the United Nations; and, most famously, negotiated the 1995 Dayton peace agreement that ended the war in...( ) Read all
Russia wants to strike a short-term deal with Kiev on gas transit to Europe when the current 10-year agreement expires in order to buy time to complete pipelines that will bypass Ukraine, four sources familiar with Russian thinking said.( ) Read all
Looking for a combined wine and gastronomy vacation? Looking for something adventurous and a bit off the beaten track? Try Moldova. This is probably not the first country that pops up in your mind. Some people may not even know it as a wine country. But it definitely is one. And an old one at that.( ) Read all
The Commission has resumed budget support assistance to the Republic of Moldova by disbursing €14.54 million today to support the implementation of the EU-Moldova free trade agreement, to finance vocational education trainings and to assist the implementation of the visa liberalisation...( ) Read all
Red faces in Moscow this weekend, with the news that hackers have successfully targeted FSB—Russia's Federal Security Service. The hackers managed to steal 7.5 terabytes of data from a major contractor, exposing secret FSB projects to de-anonymize Tor browsing, scrape social media,...( ) Read all
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Moldova's new pro-European government to continue on the path of reforms and step up the fight against widespread corruption, saying Berlin would offer Chisinau its support.( ) Read all
Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale congratulated Moldova's new prime minister, Maia Sandu, and expressed U.S. support for her government during a July 13 meeting in the Moldovan capital.( ) Read all
The first batch of oil from the USA arrived at the port of the Ukrainian city of Odesa. According to the press service of the port, 75 thousand tons of Bakken grade oil was purchased by PJSC Ukrtatnafta and will be processed at the Kremenchuk oil refinery.( ) Read all