Blog / Middle East and North Africa

Why the Sochi Winter Olympics is triggering an ethno-nationalist identity in the Middle East

Photo Source: Geagea via Wikimedia Commons.

“Today, as the Sochi Olympics approaches, Circassians seem to be carrying their own torch”, writes Jordanian-Circassian Merissa Khurma. For many Circassians, the Russian winter Olympics 2014 in Sochi has brought up bitter memories and triggered a world-wide renewal of an old identity. “For most sports worldwide, this flame marks …

Asia / Blog

Xi Jinping, Central Asia and Russia: Misguided Speculation over a New ‘Great Game’

BRICS leaders at the G-20 Summit in St.Petersburg. Xi Jinping then travelled to several Central Asian republics. Photo Source: Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR, Agência Brasil via Wikimedia Commons.

Much attention has been paid to a series of visits undertaken by the new Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Central Asian republics last month. Notwithstanding the ostensible …

Blog / Russia and Eurasia

Elections in Russia: fit for a great power?

Photo source: Wanwa via Wikimedia Commons.

If there is a word to describe the start of post-holiday season in Russia, quiet is certainly not one of them. On the international stage, the country was going out of its way to stave off Obama’s punitive strike against Syria, adding to its resentful rhetoric and pouty face such …

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Blog / Russia and Eurasia

Putin’s Pivot to Asia

Photo source: via Wikimedia Commons.

The general consensus among policymakers and commentators is that the global configuration of power is shifting eastward. China is set to become the world’s biggest economy in 2016 and by 2025, four of the ten largest economies will be Asian. This is driving governments and institutions in the West to rethink …

Blog / Russia and Eurasia

European Union versus Russia

EU President José Manuel Barroso and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo source: via Wikimedia Commons.

Russia and Europe have always had their differences. However, given the globalised world that we live in, one would have thought that Russia and the West may finally put to bed their historic hostility towards each other and cooperate …

Blog / Russia and Eurasia

The Edward Snowden Red Herring

Putin is making every effort to distance himself from Snowden. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

The Edward Snowden affair continues to theatrically play out on our screens with no foreseeable conclusion in sight, as Snowden remains in diplomatic purgatory, in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. Meanwhile, over the Atlantic, one senator denounced …

Blog / Europe

Monitoring The Monitors: Election Observation Missions in Post-Soviet Central Asia

OSCE Kazakhstan. Photo Source: U.S. Department of State via Flickr Creative Commons.

In the last fifteen years, the importance of electoral observation has propagated enormously – paralleling the spread of democratisation and democracy promotion. Though Western governments, international and non-governmental organisations have used a myriad of strategies to elicit democratic change around the globe; election …

Blog / Environment & Energy

Ghosts of Chernobyl

Photo from Adam Lenton ©

It’s not often a chance to visit a place like Chernobyl crops up, and naturally I jumped at the chance. My main motivation for visiting was to see the abandoned city of Pripyat, untouched since the time of the Ukrainian SSR when its 50,000 inhabitants were forced to evacuate.

The trip …

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Blog / Environment & Energy

The race for the Arctic

Photo Source: Polar Cruises via Flickr Creative Commons.

Earlier this year Russia launched a programme for Arctic Development, with the overarching goals of developing infrastructure, and promoting science, technology and international cooperation in the area.

It is the latter point which is particularly salient as the arctic region has been an area for international negotiations in …