Russian policy towards post-Soviet Frozen conflicts

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This case study examines Russia’s inconsistent foreign policy towards four post-Soviet frozen conflicts by comparing two conflicting theoretical approaches on a system level. Russia’s policy is labeled inconsistent because its approach to four frozen conflicts, namely the conflicts concerning Transnistria, Abkhazia, South-Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh, is very different despite the fact these conflict situations seem similar. The approaches that used are realism and social constructivism and they each provide different explanations for Russia’s behavior. The former explains Russia’s policies by security/power considerations, while the latter explains its policies by focusing on international norms, collective identity and social identity. In the empirical analysis, Russia’s policy is summarized, then analyzed and categorized and in the end possible independent variables that explain the inconsistent policies are tested. After this extensive empirical analysis, sufficient empirical evidence is found to conclude that Russia’s policies are primarily based on national interests but also partly on the interest of the de facto states. The differences in Russia’s policies can be explained by on the one hand the geopolitical course of the parent state and on the other hand the acceptance of Russia’s role as regional power within the de facto states. Therefore both realism and social constructivism are able to partly explain Russia’s policies as well as the differences in its policies.
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