Three Dimensions of the Post-Soviet Frozen Conflicts

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2019-63-5-88-100

N. Arbatova (,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation 


The article is dedicated to the analysis of three dimensions of the post-Soviet “frozen” conflicts – internal, post-imperial/post-Soviet and international, the dialectics of interconnection of these dimensions in relations between Russia and the EU/West, as well as to the prospects for resolving these problems. The formation of new independent states as a result of the collapse of the former Yugoslavia and the USSR gave rise to separatism of national minorities, large enough to count on their own statehood, which caused many intrastate conflicts. Despite economic, political, cultural and ethnic specifics of such conflicts, as well as their differences in terms of geopolitical position, they all have certain common essential features. These are: the bitterness of the dominant titular ethnic group defeated in the quarrel with separatists as a result of the external forces’ intervention, the refugee factor (with the exception of Transnistria), the loss of territorial integrity, and the fact that in the new independent states communism was replaced by nationalism. The exception during the collapse of the USSR was only Russia, where the communist system was defeated by the revolutionary democrats, while Russian nationalists stood for the revival of the Soviet empire. However, this period was very short. As contradictions between Russia and its Western partners ripened and escalated, conflicts in the post-Soviet space became a mirror reflection of their rivalry and a threat to international and regional security. This was fully demonstrated by the Ukrainian conflict. The battle for the post-Soviet space between Russia and the West cannot be stopped without rethinking their strategies in the region, which will undoubtedly require some courage in admitting the mistakes made. It seems, the NATO leadership must recognize that the Alliance’s expansion strategy to the east has outlived itself and is not bringing anything but clashes with Russia. The European Union should think about the need to reformat the Eastern Partnership and offer Russia a new cooperation project in the post-Soviet space, based on specific functional projects in different areas and built on the principle of flexible geometry including everyone. Russia, in turn, must recognize that the main thing in ensuring its national security is not to create enemies in its immediate environment and beyond. Today, many politicians and experts in both the EU and NATO complain that there is no trust in relations between Russia and the West. The settlement of “frozen” conflicts in the CIS can serve as the beginning of the revival of trust, which arises only in the process of joint problem solving. 

Acknowledgements. The article was prepared in the framework of the project “Formation of a polycentric world order: risks and opportunities for Russia”, program of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences No. 22 “Analysis and forecast of new global challenges and opportunities for Russia”


CIS, Russia, EAEU, European Union, Eastern Partnership, USA, NATO expansion, Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria, Caucasus crisis, Ukrainian conflict, security strategy, defense and foreign policy 


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For citation:
Arbatova N. Three Dimensions of the Post-Soviet Frozen Conflicts. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2019, vol. 63, No 5, pp. 88-100.

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