RUCARR Seminar with Dr. Igor Istomin

Limits of Commitment: Responses of Junior Allies to Hegemonic Entrapment

Dr. Igor Istomin, Associate Professor of Associate Professor, MGIMO University and Davis Senior Fellow, Harvard University, will give the presentation Limits of Commitment: Responses of Junior Allies to Hegemonic Entrapment at the RUCARR seminar on May 18, 3.15-5 pm (zoom, CET). Sign-up link

Abstract

 Entrapment represents an inevitable concern for states in alliances. Junior allies are especially exposed to the demands for support from a hegemonic patron on whose benevolence they rely. In this regard, the paper seeks to examine strategies that they use to avoid entrapment by a great power. It draws attention to the manipulation with the salience of their response as a source of leverage. The author argues that junior allies are more likely to pursue low-level evasion from pressure by their hegemonic patron than to demonstrate resolve through loud signaling. By capitalizing on the entry points into the decision-making of a great power, small states rely on quiet diplomacy rather than public statements to express their concerns. Only if they view a hegemonic patron as intransigent, they embarrass it with their high-profile defection. The paper poses these theoretical claims against empirical record in four cases, which include the refusal of several NATO Member States to support the U.S.-led intervention in Iraq in 2003, the opposition of Belarus to the Russian military base on its territory in 2015, the abstention of Israel from Western sanctions towards Moscow in 2014 and the lack of contribution by the CSTO Member States to the Russian operation in Syria in 2017. Within-case analysis on all four instances illuminates the causal logic connecting the salience of the response by small states to the intransigence of a hegemonic patron, while refuting several alternative explanations.

Short Bio

Igor Istomin is an Associate Professor, Department of Applied International Political Analysis, MGIMO University, and Senior Fellow, Davis Center, Harvard University. He holds Ph.D. and M.A. degrees from MGIMO as well as undergraduate degree from St. Petersburg State University. Igor Istomin teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in applied foreign policy analysis and international relations theory. He also delivered lectures and talks in several institutions, such as Columbia University, Fletcher School at Tufts University, Georgetown University, Harvard University (all U.S.) and Jilin University (China). Igor Istomin is an executive editor at the Mezhdunarodnye Protsessy (International Trends), a leading Russian academic journal.

Panel April 6 – Strategies for legitimation and political succession in Eurasia

This panel was originally proposed to, and accepted by, the annual convention of the International Studies Association to be held in Las Vegas, April 6-9. As the convention for known reasons moved into a virtual mode, we decided to hold this panel outside of the formal ISA framework.

The panel provides a series of perspectives on the issue of succession in the post-Soviet states of Eurasia. The countries under consideration are similar to the extent that they are authoritarian, that (with the exception of Kyrgyzstan) they have been ruled for a long time by the same person, and that rules and practises of succession have not been tried and tested. The panel combines two more general papers with three case studies – the contrasting recent cases of Kazakhstan (Silvan) and Kyrgyzstan (Joraev), and the currently uncertain case of Russia (Petersson). Du Boulay’s paper examines how charismatic leaders have been succeeded, and how successors adopt charismatic regime features, in a number of cases. Smith considers the application of theoretical possibilities and models of succession to the Eurasian cases. Two political science concepts are key to the approach of the papers – the well established concept of legitimacy, and the more recently developed one of charismatic leadership. The contrasting successes and failures of managed succession are considered within cultural as well as institutional contexts. By considering outcomes as well as strategies, the panel thus seeks to go beyond dominant approaches which stick to institutional and realist explanations of succession.

Chair: Natia Gamkrelidze (Linnaeus University)

Papers

Sofya du Boulay (Oxford Brookes University): The politics of post-charismatic succession and autocratic legitimation in the former Soviet space

Bo Petersson (Malmö University): Dealing with the Putin Predicament: Dilemmas of Political Succession in Russia

Jeremy Smith (Zayed University/University of Eastern Finland): Patterns of managed succession in Eurasia

Emilbek Dzhuraev (OSCE Academy in Bishkek): Caught in a (Vicious) Cycle? Informal and Formal Underpinnings of Leader Succession in Kyrgyzstan

Kristiina Silvan (University of Helsinki): All about legitimacy? Explaining the leadership succession in Kazakhstan

Discussant: Colleen Wood (Columbia University)

Tuesday, April 6, 3 pm – 5 pm CET

Welcome to join us at what promises to be a stimulating discussion of highly topical issues! The panel will convene by zoom.

Seminar with Prof. Marlene Laruelle – March 16

Is Russia fascist? Unraveling propaganda East West

Welcome to next RUCARR seminar with Prof. Marlene Laruelle, George Washington University, where she will present and discuss her latest book Is Russia fascist? Unraveling propaganda East West.

When: March 16, 15.15–17.00 (Swedish time)
Where: Zoom, Sign up here

In the book Is Russia fascist? Unraveling propaganda East West, Dr. Laruelle argues that the charge of “fascism” has become a strategic narrative of the current world order. Vladimir Putin’s regime has increasingly been accused of embracing fascism, supposedly evidenced by Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its historical revisionism, attacks on liberal democratic values, and its support for far-right movements in Europe. But at the same time Russia has branded itself as the world’s preeminent antifascist power because of its sacrifices during the Second World War while it has also emphasized how opponents to the Soviet Union in Central and Eastern Europe collaborated with Nazi Germany. She argues that ultimately the current memory fight is a struggle to define the future of Europe, and it is the key question of Russia’s inclusion or exclusion that draws the line of divide.

Bio

Marlene Laruelle, Ph.D., is Director and Research Professor at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES), Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University.  Dr. Laruelle is also Director of the Illiberalism Studies Program and a Co-Director of PONARS (Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia).  Dr. Laruelle received her Ph.D. in history at the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Cultures (INALCO) and her post-doctoral degree in political science at Sciences-Po in Paris. She has recently published Russian Nationalism. Imaginaries, Doctrines, and Political Battlefields (Routledge, 2018), and Memory Politics and the Russian Civil War. Reds versus Whites (Bloomsbury, with Margarita Karnysheva).

Seminar with Dr. Peter Eltsov

The Long Telegram 2.0: A Neo-Kennanite Approach to Russia

Dr. Peter Eltsov, Associate Professor of International Security Affairs at the College of International Security Affairs, National Defense University (Washington), presents his recent book The Long Telegram 2.0: A Neo-Kennanite Approach to Russia. When: April 12, 4-6 pm (zoom, CET)

In this book, Eltsov lays out an original argument for understanding Russia that goes deep into its history, starting with the tri-partite dictum “orthodoxy, autocracy, nationality,” formulated in 1833 by count Sergey Uvarov. Eltsov explores Uvarov’s triad in the context of modern Russia, adding five more traits: exceptionalism, expansionism, historical primordialism, worship of the military, and glorification of suffering.

The author argues that, as presently constituted, Russia cannot become a democracy, and, sooner than later, it will disintegrate, replicating the fate of the Soviet Union. The key reasons for these, according to the author, are: weak mechanisms for the transition of power, poorly developed institutions of the state, feeble economy and education, frail ideology, and, most importantly, the lack of a unified national identity. Following this assessment, Eltsov defines a strategy for dealing with Russia, based on a combination of offensive realism and realpolitik, recommending that the West copes with Russia in a more pragmatic manner. Eltsov also will connect his ideas to most recent events in Russia, such as the adoption of a new constitution and the relations with Belarus.

Bio

Peter Eltsov is an anthropologist and historian. He holds MA in South and South East Asian Studies from the University of California at Berkeley and PhD in Anthropology from Harvard.  Prior to the National Defense University, Eltsov held positions at Free University in Berlin, the Library of Congress, Harvard University, and Wellesley College. Eltsov has published both in academic and mainstream venues and provided numerous commentaries for the media. In his current research, he is particularly interested in how competing interpretations of the past affect modern politics, including conflict and war.

Putin och Rysslands rebeller

RUCARR uppmärksammar två nyutkomna och aktuella böcker om Ryssland: Hans-Wilhelm Steinfelds ”Putin” och Geir Flikkes ”Ruslands rebeller”, båda utgivna på norska av Cappelen Damm.

Författarna presenterar själva sina verk. Därefter följer kommentarer av Carolina Vendil Pallin samt diskussion och frågor från publiken. Medverkande: Geir Flikke, professor, Universitetet i Oslo. Hans-Wilhelm Steinfeld, Norsk Rikskringkasting (NRK); Carolina Vendil Pallin, forskningsledare Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut, FOI.

När: 1 december, 15.15-17.00.

Var: Zoom – länk här

Seminar with Dr Lincoln Mitchell – The Caucasus in the Post-Covid Multi-Polar World

You are invited to attend the RUCARR online seminar on October 6  The Caucasus in the Post-Covid Multi-Polar World with Dr. Lincoln Mitchell, affiliated to Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, Columbia University (bio below).

When: October 6, 3.15-5.00 pm (Swedish time)
Where: Zoom platform
The seminar is open to staff and students as well as other interested. Welcome to sign-up at rucarr@mau.se.

Abstract

One of the results of the mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic by the American government has been to accelerate the movement towards a truly multi-polar world. Instead of controlling the pandemic within its own borders and offering assistance to the rest of the world, the US suffered more loss of life and greater damage to its economy that most countries. One of the effects of this has been to damage not just America’s standing in the world, but also limit its ability to impact political events in the rest of the world. This development will be felt acutely in the Caucasus.

The three South Caucasus countries as well as the Russian regions in the North Caucasus have long had to navigate a path between major political powers, but the nature of that challenge began to change in 2017, when Donald Trump became President of the US, and has accelerated in recent months. These polities now find themselves in a very different world, one where the American footprint will be lighter and China’s almost certainly heavier. Additionally, the possibility of the world becoming less globally integrated will have major impact on a region that has long been a crossroads between different regions. These developments will have an impact on the domestic politics of the countries in the region on issues ranging from democracy and human rights to domestic stability as well as their relations with each other and the rest of the world including with regards to questions of trade, fighting terrorism and national security.

This seminar will explore these questions and probe how the Caucasus will be changed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bio

Lincoln Mitchell is a political analyst, pundit and writer based in New York City and San Francisco. Lincoln works on democracy and governance related issues in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. He also works with businesses and NGOs globally, particularly in the former Soviet Union. Lincoln was on the faculty of Columbia University’s School of International Affairs from 2006-2013. He retains an affiliation with Columbia’s Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies and teaches in the political science department as well. In addition, he worked for years as a political consultant advising and managing domestic political campaigns. […] Continue reading: http://lincolnmitchell.com/about

RUCARR seminar with Dr My Lilja

Drug discourses in Russia

My Lilja, PhD, University Lecturer in Criminology, Malmö University

Abstract

Since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been an intensified debate about drugs in Russia, for example in the parliament and in the press, and the drug problem is now regarded as one of the country’s most serious problems and an issue of top priority for the Russian government. This presentation will focus on ongoing and previous research about drug discourses in Russia. Some issues of particular interest were the identification of dominant discourses on drugs, the determination of which understandings of the drug problem were taken for granted and which were not recognised, whether there were any discussion of the consequences of the problem and an analysis of which actors that were represented in the debate.

When: May 19, 15.00–16.30
Where: Zoom, for sign-up, contact rucarr@mau.se

New publication on Gorbachev and the collapse of the USSR

A book with the intriguing title Mistakes, Errors and Failures across Cultures (eds. E. Vanderheiden & C-H Mayer, Springer) has recently appreared

The RUCARR contribution in this context is the chapter Mistakes and Demise: Mikhail Gorbachev and the Dissolution of the Soviet Union by Prof. Klas-Göran Karlsson (Deputy chairman of RUCARR’s advisory board; left) and Prof. Bo Petersson (Co-director of RUCARR; right).

Abstract and more info here.

 

Seminar with Mikhail Suslov

RUCARR seminar on February 14

Dr. Mikhail Suslov: Fantasy and Politics in Contemporary Russian Science Fiction
When: February 14, 13.15
Where: Niagara Building, Nordenskiöldsgatan 1, Room: NIC:1029

Abstract
This talk inquires into the ways in which utopian narratives interact with political discourses and facilitate identity-making in post-Soviet Russia. The paper brings together various academic perspectives, including literature studies, cultural studies, and studies of ideologies and politics in order to comprehensively analyze the syncretic genre of science fiction. Works of science fiction condense political myths, metaphors, concepts and emotions, thereby giving us a better understanding of Russian political culture. I argue that the study of sociopolitical science fiction and utopias exposes the ideational tracks on which Russian society in Putin’s third presidency glided smoothly into the annexation of Crimea, the war in Donbas, and confrontation with the West. At the same time, post-Soviet science fiction addresses such issues of international pertinence as the rise of nationalism, right-wing populism and imperial revanchism and attempts to strike a balance between modernization and cultural authenticity.

Mikhail Suslov is Assistant Professor of Russian History and Politics at the University of Copenhagen. His research focuses on Russian intellectual history, conservative, right-wing and religiously-motivated political ideas, geopolitical ideologies and socio-political utopias. His most recent papers dealing with (geo)political imagination include “The “Russian World” Concept: ‘Spheres of influence’ in the post-Soviet geopolitical ideology,” Geopolitics 23, no. 2 (2018) and  “The Production of ‘Novorossiya’: A Territorial Brand in Public Debates,” Europe-Asia Studies 69, no. 2 (2017). Recently he edited Digital Orthodoxy in the Post- Soviet World: The Russian Orthodox Church and Web 2.0 (Stuttgart: Ibidem Verlag, 2016) and co- edited (with Mark Bassin) Eurasia 2.0: Post-Soviet Geopolitics in the Age of New Media (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2016).

RUCARR Caucasus Conference 2018

Thank you to all participants at the conference ‘Promoting International Dialogue and Protecting Cultural Heritage in the Caucasus’ December 5-6 at RUCARR, Malmö University. It has been two days of most interesting presentations and engaging discussions and comments with participants from all parts of the Caucasus! And many thanks to the Swedish Institute for making this event possible.