Regional level of conflict dynamics in the South Caucasus [Elektronische Ressource] : Russia

Regional level of conflict dynamics in the South Caucasus [Elektronische Ressource] : Russia's policies towards the ethno-territorial conflicts (1991-2008) / vorgelegt von Kavus Abushov

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Politikwissenschaft Regional level of conflict dynamics in the South Caucasus: Russia’s policies towards the ethno-territorial conflicts (1991-2008) Inaugaral-Dissertation zur Erlangung des Doktorgrades der Philosophischen Fakultät der Westfälischen Wilhems-Univeristät zu Münster vorgelegt von Kavus Abushov aus Baku, Aserbaidschan 2010 Tag der mündlichen Prüfung: 20. August 2010 Dekan: Prof. Dr. Christian Pietsch Referent: Prof. Dr. Susanne Feske Korreferent: Prof. Dr. S.

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Politikwissenschaft



Regional level of conflict dynamics in the South Caucasus:
Russia’s policies towards the ethno-territorial conflicts
(1991-2008)

Inaugaral-Dissertation
zur Erlangung des Doktorgrades
der
Philosophischen Fakultät
der
Westfälischen Wilhems-Univeristät
zu Münster

vorgelegt von
Kavus Abushov
aus Baku, Aserbaidschan



2010
Tag der mündlichen Prüfung: 20. August 2010

Dekan: Prof. Dr. Christian Pietsch

Referent: Prof. Dr. Susanne Feske

Korreferent: Prof. Dr. S. Neil MacFarlane






























2Table of contents

List of tables 8
List of maps 8
List of figures 8
Acknowledgements 9
Introduction 11
Methodology and sources 13
Case selection 15
Delimitation of the research 16
Level of analysis 16
Methodological challenges 17
Structure of the thesis
Chapter 1 Discourse in international relations: realism, regional security complex theory
and hegemony 19
1.1 Legacy of geopolitics
1.1.1. Geopolitics in Russia’s approach to the South Caucasus 22
1.2. Realist account of Russia’s policies 24
1.2.1. Clasical realism 24
1.2.2. Structral ealism 28
a) Staism 30
b) Self-help 31
c) Mature anarchy 35
d) Balancing and alliances 35
1.2.3. Offensive realism 38
1.2.4. Neo-classical realism 40
1.2.5. Realist account of Russia’s policies towards the conflicts in the South Caucasus 44
a) compatibility with realism 44
b) Rationality 47
c) Balancing 48
d) Relative versus relevant 50
e) Offensive realism 52
f) Role of perceptions in Russia’s behaviour: neo-classical realism 52
1.3 Regional security complex theory 54
31.3.1. Components of regional security complexes 56
1.3.2. Types of regional security complexes 57
1.3.3. Great power engagement in a security complex and overlay 58
1.3.4. The Caucasus as a regional security complex 60
1.4. Nature of Russia’s hegemony 64

Chapter 2 Ethno-territorial conflicts in the South Caucasus after the collapse of the
Soviet Union: causes and consequences of conflict spiral 67
2.1. The Georgian-Abkhaz conflict 67
2.1.1. Causes of the conflict 68
a) Role of perceptions 70
b) Demographic situation 72
c) Abkhazia’s status prior to the conflict 73
d) Abkhaz grievances 74
2.1.2. Escalation of the conflict and success of secessionism 76
a) War of laws 78
b) The Georgian-Abkhaz war 79
2.1.3. The peace process 84
a) UN Commitment 84
b) Return of IDPs 85
c) Status of Abkhazia 86
2.1.4. Crises of 1998, 2001 and 2006 87
2.1.5. Challenges to reconciliation 90
a) Societal challenges 90
2.2. The Georgian-Ossetian conflict 93
2.2.1. The Georgian and South Ossetian national movements 94
2.2.2. Role of historic narratives 96
2.2.3. Escalation of the conflict in 1989 97
2.2.4. Georgian-Ossetian war 99
2.2.5. 2004 crisis and follow up 103
2.2.6. The peace process 105
2.2.7. Provisional Administration of South Ossetia 109
2.3. The Mountainous Karabakh conflict 109
2.3.1. Background factors and roots of the conflict 110
4a) Role of history: brief history of the region 110
b) Socio-economic order in Mountainous Karabakh: Alleged discrimination
c) Causes of the conflict 116
2.3.2. Escalation of the conflict 119
a) War of laws 122
b) War 124
c) Definition of the conflict parties 126
2.3.3. The peace process and challenges 128
a) OSCE mediation efforts 128
b) Land swap 131
c) Mountainous Karabakh’s and Armenia’s position 132
d) Azerbaijan’s position 134
e) Identity related challenges to the process 135
2.3.4. De-facto ‘statehood’ in Mountainous Krabakh 140
Concluding remarks 141

Chapter 3 Russia’s strategic interests in the South Caucasus since 1991 144
3.1. Evolution of Russian foreign policy after 1991 144
3.2. Russian identity crisis and formation of Russian foreign policy 145
3.2.1. End of romanticism: Russia’s return to geopolitics and neo-imperialism 149
3.2.2. Implications for the South Caucasus 153
3.2.3. Foreign policy concepts 154
3.2.4. Russia’s great power status 158
3.2.5. NATO Enlargement 162
3.2.6. Russian-US détente after 9/11 166
3.2.7. Spheres of interest 168
3.3. Russia’s regional interests in the South Caucasus
3.3.1. Security interests 169
a) Interconnection of threats in the Caucasus 169
b) Spill-over effect 172
c) Controlled instability
5.2.3. Broader Geopolitical interests 174
a) Political and military presence 175
b) Military bases 176
5c) Peacekeeping forces 177
d) Resistance to US presence 178
e) Erosion of values and Russia’s soft power 180
Concluding remarks 181

Chapter 4 Russia’s policies towards the ethno-territorial conflicts in the South Caucasus
4.1 Russia’s engagement in the South Caucasus in the post-communist period 183
4.1.1. Policy incoherence 184
4.1.2. Shortage of resources 184
4.2. Russia’s policies towards the ethno-territorial conflicts in Georgia 188
4.2. Russia’s policies towards the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict 189
4.2.1. Policies during President Yeltsin’s term in office 190
a) Initial reaction 190
b) Russia’s incentives for assistance to the Abkhaz side 193
c) Scale of Russia’s assistance to the Abkhaz side and its incentives 195
d) cease-fire 196
c) Civil war in Georgia and acquiesce to CIS membership 197
4.2.2. Policies during President Putin’s term in office 201
a) Naturalisation of residents 202
b) Alleged support to the de facto authorities 203
c) Active engagement 204
d) Attachment to the peace process 205
e) Involvement in the domestic affairs of the region 207
4.3. Russia’s policies towards the Georgian-Ossetian conflict 209
4.3.1. Deterioration of relations in light of Georgia’s reintegration attempts 211
a) Alleged impartiality 213
b) Roki tunnel 214
c) Calls for Russia’s recognition of the region’s independence 214
d) (In) Capacity to resolve the conflict 214
4.3.3. South Ossetia crisis and Russia’s recognition of both regions’ independence 215
a) Background 215
b) Outbreak of fighting in South Ossetia 216
c) Russia’s response 217
d) Cease fire 218
6e) Motivation of Russian behaviour 219
f) Had Russia planned it? 224
g) Recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia 225
h) Broader implications 227
4.4. Russia’s policies towards the Mountainous Karabakh conflict 228
4.4.1. Russia’s engagement 229
a) Russia’s military engagement 230
4.4.2. Russia’s attachement to the peace process 231
4.4.3. Russia’s incapacity 233
a) Russia’s current position on the conflict 233
Concluding remarks 234

Chapter 5
Interaction between Russia’s bilateral relations with the South Caucasus states and its
policies towards the ethno-territorial conflicts 237
5.1. Impact of Russia’s bilateral relations with Georgia on its territorial conflicts 237
5.1.1. Deterioration of Georgian-Russian relations 239
5.1.2. Impact of failed cooperation in the II Chechen war 239
5.1.3. Russian-Georgian relations after the Rose-Revolution 241
a) Russian military bases 242
b) Gas crisis and spy row 243
5.1.4. Prospects of Russian-Georgian relations 245
5.2. Impact of bilateral relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan on Russia’s policies towards
the MK conflict 247
5.3. Continuity of interests vis-a-vis the conflict regions 249
5.3.1. Russia’s engagement in the Mountainous Karabakh conflict 249
a) disinterest in the resolution of the conflict 249
b) Improvement of bilateral relations with Azerbaijan and change in Russia’s strategy 250
5.3.2. The Georgian-Abkhaz and the Georgian-Ossetian conflicts 252
Conclusion 252
Key findings 256
Bibliography 263


7List of tables
Table 1 Lines of amity and enmity in the South Caucasus 60
Table 2 Defence budget and GDP, 2007-2009 64
Table 3 Polls in Abkhazia on the conditions of reconciliation 90
Table 4 Compatibility of Russian and Georgian interests 245

List of maps
Map 1 The Caucasus region 9
Map 2 Abkhazia 68
Map 3 South Ossetia 105
Map 4 Mountainous Karabakh and the occupied regions 118
Map 5 JPKF Map of Georgian controlled areas in South Ossetia 215


List of figures
Figure 1 Caucasus mini-complex 59
Figure 2 Correlation between Western engagement of Russia and its belief in realpolitik and
statism 152
Figure 3 Russia’s engagement in the Mountainous Karabakh conflict 251















8Acknowledgement

I would like to express my first gratitude to my supervisors Prof. Susanne Feske and Prof.
Neil MacFarlane. Professor Feske was an inspiring force for me throughout my stay in
Muenster, from whom I learnt a lot in the field of international relations theory and research
methods. I was very lucky to have Professor MacFarlane’s (who is one of the most prominent
experts on the CIS and state weakness) consent to act as my external examiner, whose
superior knowledge of both international relations literature and the CIS region was guiding
light for me. I would like to further thank Professors Jaap de Wilde and Bertjan Veerbek for
their kind support. Prof. De Wilde invited me to participate in a two year research colloquium
of the Netherlands Institute of Government, which helped me recognise the challenges and
opportunities of my the thesis at an early stage. For the supervision of my minor specialisation
in public international law, I would foremost like to thank Prof. Christian Walter from the
Faculty of Law.
I would further like to thank Prof. Valeriy Lyubin from the Russian Academy of Sciences for
giving me important insights on accessing my interviewees during my stay in Russia. For all
his support for documents in Georgian language, I would like to thank my dear friend Beka
Natsvlishvili. For his support with working out the maps and his techincal assistance and
moral support, I would like to thank my very dear friend in Muenster Azer Vahabzade.
Special thanks should be owed to Ms Christine Eglseder for all the support she granted me.
Further, I would like to thank Professors Steven Van Evera, Mohammed Ayoob, Brenda
Schaffer, Dr Jason Strakes, Egbert Jahn, Reinhard Meyers, Stefano Guzzini for their insights.
Last but not least, I would like to thank the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy, my colleague
Dr. Elnur Soltanov for his valuable advice on research methodologies, and its management for
their overall support and patience with my PhD.









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Map 1 The Caucasus region













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