Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has been unprecedented in its embrace of modern technology for the execution of its foreign policy and intelligence operation. This article examines Russia’s relationship to the internet and computer technology, beginning with the early 1990s and detailing the growth of technology’s popularity with the Russian public and Russian government up through 2017. Particular attention is paid to the skill with which Russia’s illiberal political institutions and security services exploit the ‘wild west’ nature of the internet and the manipulable nature of modern technology and media, as well as how and why the West and U.S. failed to anticipate Russia’s rise as a digital superpower and continue to fail to counter its dominance.
The Russian Federation believes that the post-Soviet region is strategically important and considers it to be the exclusive zone of its influence. Each of the former republics occupies a specific place in its foreign and security policy. The article attempts to determine the place of Georgia and Ukraine in the aforementioned policy. It is based on analysis of Moscow’s policy towards them, including actions that clearly enabled the implementation of a strategic political turn towards the West, which for the Kremlin would mean a gradual loss of influence in the area of the former USSR.
In order to effectively counter hybrid warfare, it is necessary to understand it. However, certain aspects of hybrid warfare are often confused with traditional soft power. This article aims to highlight the differences between the two by analyzing the relationship between Bulgaria and Russia. The latter enjoys considerable opportunities to exercise soft power, but often must accompany them with hybrid means. Yet, labeling everything as hybrid warfare becomes detrimental to the topic itself. Moreover, it runs the risk of ascribing greater power to the Kremlin which may not truly be the case. The aim of the authors is to expose the threats, opportunities, and limits of Russian influence in Bulgaria and the possible outcomes.
Understanding Cross-Border Conflict in Post-Soviet Central Asia: The Case of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
Despite the prevalence of works on ‘discourses of danger’ in the Ferghana Valley, which re-invented post-Soviet Central Asia as a site of intervention, the literature on conflict potential in the cross-border areas of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is fairly limited. Yet, the number of small scale clashes and tensions on the borders of the Batken and Isfara regions has been growing steadily. Accordingly, this work seeks to contribute to the understanding of the conflict escalations in the area and identify factors that aggravate tensions between the communities. In particular, this article focuses on four variables, which exacerbate tensions and hinder the restoration of a peaceful social fabric in the Batken-Isfara region: the unresolved legacies of the Soviet past, inefficient use of natural resources, militarisation of borders, and lack of evidence-based policymaking.
By the end of 2016 Montenegro and America were experiencing some similar problems. Numerous accusations by politicians included the fact that the elections were irregular; Presidential in US and Parliamentarian in Montenegro. Both Montenegro and the USA may have experienced Russian meddling in their democratic processes. Russia was involved in obstruction of the American presidential elections, according to an official assessment from American intelligence agencies. During the 16 October election night in Montenegro, a group of Russian citizens together with individuals from Serbia and Montenegro, reportedly planned to assassinate former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and overthrow his pro-Western government. According to the statement by the Montenegrin Special Prosecutor Milivoje Katnic, Russian nationalists were involved in the planned action with the goal of stopping Montenegrin NATO accession. On 18 November 2016, Katnic released the names of two Russians who are accused of organizing the attack; Eduard Shirokov, currently on the Interpol’s red notice and Vladimir Popov. In 2014, Shirokov was a deputy military attaché in the Russian embassy in Poland, but was expelled as persona non grata, due to alleged espionage for Russia. Both Shirokov and Popov are members of GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service.
This paper is an abridged version of the proceedings of the PfP Consortium’s Conflict Studies Working Group (CSWG) workshop which took place in Berlin, 7-9 November 2016. The workshop, entitled “Countering Radical Islamism in the North Caucasus” welcomed representatives of Germany, Poland, Romania, Russia, including of course the North Caucasus. It was organized by the PfP Consortium at the behest of Ivan A. Babin, director of the Center for Scientific and Social Innovation (Stavropol, Russia) and Baron Udo von Massenbach, president of the German-American Business Association. Carmen Rijnoveanu presided the conference.
The workshop’s aim was to highlight the gravity of Islamic radicalization in the North Caucasus, and treat it as a symptom of wider geopolitical and social upheavals worldwide. In putting the accent on the scope of the challenge, our Russian guests were also stressing that the successful defeat of movements like DAESH requires East-West cooperation.
This cooperation should help open dialogue between the great powers in our Ukraine and Syria-fueled “Cold War.” Urgency and cooperation are some of the themes that motivate each presentation in the workshop. This paper has collected presentations that were representative of its intent. They are presented here translated and edited, with the understanding that the opinions they represent are those of the authors only, and in no way reflect that of any government or organization. Each piece is identified by its proponent, and all the pieces are interspersed with short commentaries designed to bring unity to the whole document.
Foreign Terrorist Fighters from the North Caucasus: Understanding Islamic State Influence in the Region
We are ashamed that we are going to Syria at a time when the Caucasus is still occupied, but young people are returning here once they’ve undergone a training course. – BBC source, ‘close’ to Chechen boeviki In September 2014, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2178 concerning the “acute and growing” threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs). These individuals are defined as those “ who travel to a State other than their States of residence or nationality for the purpose of the perpetration, planning, or preparation of, or participation in, terrorist acts or the providing or receiving of terrorist training, including in connection with armed conflict.” FTFs affect the dynamic of conflict – its intractability, duration and intensity and, furthermore, pose a threat to their “States of origin, transit, destination, and neighboring zones of armed conflict in which they are active.” Since the eruption of the civil war in Syria, and especially after June 2014 with the proclamation of the ‘caliphate,’ thousands of aspiring fighters from different regions have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State (IS) or other violent extremist groups. According to a report published by The Soufan Group in December 2015, the number of foreign fighters in Syria had reached approximately 30,000, with individuals from over 100 countries. In 2015, the top three FTF nationalities were Tunisian (6,000), Saudi Arabian (2,500), and Russian (2,300), while there were approximately 4,700 fighters from the Former Soviet Republics. In October 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that around 5,000 to 7,000 fighters from Russia and the former Soviet Union (FSU) had traveled to Syria to join IS. The majority of these fighters are from the North Caucasus (Chechnya and Dagestan), with others from Azerbaijan and Georgia as well as Central Asia – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Together they share not only the ability to speak Russian, but also a heritage of grievances stemming from the Afghan-Soviet and the post-Soviet conflicts. This paper attempts to look into the phenomenon of North Caucasian FTFs and its implications for security in North Caucasus, the Russian Federation and world-wide. In doing so, the motivations of North Caucasian FTFs, the groups that they fight for, and links to the domestic terrorist situation will be considered.
India has been facing several internal threats since its independence from Britain in 1947. The oldest and still unsolved violent struggle against the Indian state has been raging in the Northeast part of the country. But an unsettled sub-nationalist ethnic insurgency in India’s Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir and the growing radicalization of a small but significant segment of the Muslim community in the country have emerged as biggest challenges for India’s security. The nature of jihadist terrorism in India has undergone profound changes since the last two decades. Originally supported by Pakistan and confined to a specific territory in Indian-administered Kashmir, it has now become more defused with no specific area. In recent years, cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and New Delhi have been targets of terrorist attacks. This makes facing the challenge and targeting of jihadist terrorists much more difficult than before.