Fracture Points (Eastern Europe) Part Two

In previous articles, I examined a series of points of strategic concern to policymakers both in Russia and in the West. My first article on the list below posted at SOFREP.com on August 10th. In “Russia and the West: Fracture Points (South Ossetia)”, I examine the first in an important core group of strategic regional points where the interests of the West collide with those of a resurgent imperialist Russia and, consequently, the likelihood for violent conflict is high. On Friday I posted an update, specifically addressing recent events of concern in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh as well as joint military exercise agreements between Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.

Of particular concern to American policy makers are aggressive Russian campaigns of interference and intervention in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. In conjunction with the annexation of Crimea this past April, Russian assertiveness has been observed in other areas of strategic interest to both the United States and Russia. In my article Fracture Points (Eastern Europe), I examined a collection of important regions that are linked by their intrinsic value in both geopolitical and geostrategic terms. In operationalizing the term Fracture Points, I defined these locations through their commonality in value to both Russia and The West: geographical areas and regions that occupy space along important lines of demarcation or fissure points between the two belligerents and represent geostrategically important terrain straddling the two competing sides of the conflict.

The list includes (but is not limited to) a core group of these identified areas. These regions are flash points of coming conflict. Each is valued for its strategic location along lines of demarcation in the simmering and growing struggle for dominance between Russia and The West. These areas are commodities in the fight for hegemonic dominance over greater Eurasia. In the effort to control the vast resources of Central Asia and Eastern Europe, both Russia and the West have been (and will continue to) dedicate considerable political, diplomatic, and military capital towards the effort to achieve long-term control over the political apparatuses that govern these locations. The conflicts will drive policy in alliances such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union, and the nascent Russian-dominated Eurasian Union.

Each of the following regions is linked to the others through an implied geostrategic value. In addition, in the weeks, months, and years ahead, each location will be the site of geopolitical maneuvering, the target of earnest national and international policymaking, and more unfortunately for the inhabitants of the regions, overt and covert violent conflict.

This core is comprised of:

  • Crimea (Ukraine and Russia)
  • Găgăuzia (Moldova)
  • Transnistria (Moldova)
  • South Ossetia (Georgia)
  • Abkhazia (Georgia)
  • Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan)

As I examine each particular location and assess its value, I will note the history of conflicts in the region, analyze recent political events, and apply significant analytical effort towards establishing a pattern of geopolitical maneuvering by Russia and the West that burgeons prognostication of conflicts and, quite possibly, wars. Other areas of concern will be the focus of articles as well: the states of the former Yugoslavia in the Balkans, Donetsk and Luhansk in Eastern Ukraine, the North Caucasian Federal District of Russia, and the South Caucasian states of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan will be examined in detail. Each respective area’s potential for wider conflict will be assessed.

SOFREP will run the second of my articles in this series this coming week. I will examine Abkhazia, a strategically valuable breakaway region of Georgia in the South Caucasus. You can find an exceptional BBC News video examination of Abkhazia’s history, culture, and politics here.

Abkhazia

Abkhazia districts.

Below is a preview my article at SOFREP:

Following the Russo-Georgian war in 2008, Georgian authorities and government officials regularly accused Russia of supplying the separatist campaign in Abkhazia with weapons and financial resources. While Russian troops remain in Abkhazia, separatist leaders have had a difficult time establishing international legitimacy for statehood. Only Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Narau officially recognize Abkhazia as a state. In this context, the specter of enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to include Georgia is especially important in building an analytical understanding of the value of Abkhazia. The still-unresolved conflicts in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia present a nagging, if not unique, hurdle in Tbilisi’s effort to ensure long-term Georgian security from Russian aggression in the form of the protective umbrella of NATO member-state status. Strategically located  along the coast of the Black Sea, sharing a border with Russia, Abkhazia sits just south of a proposed South Stream Pipeline that would transport valuable energy resources to the European continent. It is in this respect that Abkhazia could represent strategic depth and white space for Russian policymakers.

My submission on Abkhazia will post at SOFREP this week and will expand on the ideas stated above. The article will be the second in my series analyzing this important and largely ignored areas of consequence and geopolitical competition from Central Europe eastward to Central Asia. As regions such as the Balkans the Caucasus begin to elicit significantly heightened concern and changes in the alignment structure of the international system, understanding geostrategic value of the aforementioned regions will be essential in pursuing policy that maximizes efforts to ensure long-term American strategic interest in Eurasia.

(Thanks to Kalitor for links provided. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The following two tabs change content below.
Eric Jones

Eric Jones

Director, Co-founder, and Editor in Chief at Foreign Intrigue. Eric researches and writes about international affairs and US foreign policy, particularly Europe, Russia, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. You can email Eric at Eric.Jones@Foreign-Intrigue.com. Follow Eric on Twitter via @Intrigue_Jones. Follow Foreign Intrigue on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/ForeignIntrigue.