Internal and external sovereignty of post-Soviet unrecognized states

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Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences

Internal and external sovereignty of post-Soviet unrecognized states
// Pathways to Peace and Security. 2022. No 1(62) Special Issue: Peace Processes, Violence, and De Facto States. P. 67-91
DOI: 10.20542/2307-1494-2022-1-67-91

Abstract. The article studies internal and external sovereignty of unrecognized or partially recognized post-Soviet states through the use of empirical analysis of quantitative data and critical analysis of subjective factors. It analyzes statistical and other information that reflects the demographic and socio-economic situation, foreign economic relations of such entities, and their impact on neighboring countries and regions. This is combined with the critical study of public opinions and popular identities based on surveys and 13 focus groups conducted in the fall of 2020 in Transnistria and Abkhazia. In all post-Soviet de facto states, the population has noticeably decreased (except for Nagorno-Karabakh before the 2020 war). The reason for the outflow of residents was the inability of such entities to provide citizens with decent incomes and their poor performance in economic competition with neighboring countries and regions, reflected in the dynamics of the key indicators per capita in terms of purchasing power parity. However, the economic and demographic situation cannot explain the sustainability of such entities. Strong political identity of citizens and their loyalty to the ruling regimes serve as the main basis for, and essential elements of, internal sovereignty. Participants of surveys highly value independence. They believe that it presumes economic independence, improved well-being, and the development of full-fledged international relations that helps to strengthen external sovereignty. Some respondents expressed disappointment with the fact that these goals have not been achieved in the course of 30 years. The geopolitical vision of the world by residents of post-Soviet de facto states is “Russia-centric”, although Russia is far from being idealized. In conclusion, the risks that Russia faces in connection with post-Soviet de facto states and with Moscow's involvement in the respective conflicts are assessed.

Keywords: post-Soviet unrecognized republics, de facto states, internal sovereignty, external sovereignty, identity, risks for Russia


About author

Vladimir Kolosov is Deputy Director and Head of the Center of Geopolitical Studies of the Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences.


For citation:
Kolosov V. Internal and external sovereignty of post-Soviet unrecognized states // Pathways to Peace and Security. 2022. No 1(62) Special Issue: Peace Processes, Violence, and De Facto States. P. 67-91. https://doi.org/10.20542/2307-1494-2022-1-67-91



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