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Abkhazia Is Not Crimea but Everything Is Set to Become It

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New suspicions over the status of Abkhazia emerge along with every political move of Russia. While the leadership of South Ossetia has been wholeheartedly obedient to Moscow and expressed its readiness to join the Russian Federation,  Abkhazia insists on retaining formal independence. The de facto foreign minister of Abkhazia declared, “The political status of the Republic of Abkhazia is not subject to revision and is irreversible”. Due to the willingness to be a “loyal ally” but not a part of Russia, Abkhazia never held a referendum on the matter.

The Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 has enhanced the geopolitical framework of the debate and after the event, many Abkhaz started to worry that the prospect of being “swallowed” by Russia may come to reality. Following recognition, assimilation steps have been met with ideological resistance. However, with Russia not only maintaining its position through friendly rhetoric but also with military and economic presence – all of the de facto republic’s economy depends on Russian aid –  the resistance may be the question of time. The weak organizational capability of the governing elite even strengthens the leverage of patronage. It is for clinging to the money received in aid that mainly directs internal political processes. Taking Russian influence and leverage into account, Abkhazia, along with South Ossetia, has every characteristic of a Russian protectorate. Growing economic, political, and social linkages reduce the legitimacy of the claim of the Abkhazian government.

This article explores the nature of Abkhazian sovereignty and the prospects of its complete integration with Russia. It puts the spotlight on the possible political shift in the region stemming from the strong dependence and the shift in generation mindset as well as geopolitical interests of the Russian Federation which can become a decisive factor in the future status of Abkhazia.

Breaking Away from Georgia

Following a de facto break away from Georgia, all motives behind the actions of Abkhazia have been about gaining recognition of its independence. In 2008, the recognition was received from Russia but what it means for the Kremlin and what Abkhazia wants it to be has nothing in common. It was more about separating from Georgia rather than freely conduct one’s own affairs.

After dismantling the bipolar structure, intensified ethnic conflicts in Europe fell under the geopolitical alteration zone, leading to their internationalization in nature. Today’s Russia sees post-Cold War state sovereignty as a by-product delivered from the power struggle (Russia and liberal West) in contrast to its representation in international legal documents. The speeches of Russian politicians often indicate that from Russia’s point of view, Ukraine is rather a territory combining a different group of people than a sovereign state.  The rhetoric, following the recognition of Kosovo, illustrated that Putin understood the idea of sovereignty as a mere subject of geopolitical manipulation. Georgian government in the period of pre-war of 2008 voiced the concerns that Russia still did not take Georgia as an independent state. After the recognition of Kosovo, the Kremlin started a proactive policy in order to exploit the idea of sovereignty and link the South Ossetian and Abkhazian case to it. Respectively, the war in 2008 was followed by Russia’s recognition of the independence of the break-away regions.

Getting on Truck with Russia

Since the recognition of independence of Abkhazia, the aid from Moscow amounts to half of the budget. Russia also provides additional funds for aid projects and infrastructure. It spent about 465 million to build and renovate military infrastructure, including the largest military airfield in the South Caucasus and a strategic naval base in the Black Sea.  In addition, Abkhazia uses Russian roubles as its main currency, it has adopted Russian technical and commercial standards, and almost all of its main infrastructure is owned and overseen by Russian companies. Most of the financial aid is in the form of loans that imposes a financial restraint over Abkhazia. Interestingly, in 2009-2011 when money was pouring in, people have been taking out loans from Russian banks but now they cannot repay them.

Financial incentives such as social benefits were introduced for people holding a Russian passport. Nowadays, a large majority of Abkhazians have Russian passports. This process, also known as “Passportisation”, in the long term, will create a perfect opportunity for Russia to invoke self-determination for Russian citizens as in the case of Crimea.

Right after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, two sides signed the agreement linking Abkhazia to the Russian Federation in the main areas of defense, border controls, customs, social issues, and public order. Treaty on Alliance and Strategic Partnership with Russia obliges Abkhazia to coordinate foreign policy with the former and unite with Russian armed forces. This step was criticized as “de facto annexation”. After coming to power in 2014, Russia-backed de facto president Raul Khajimba has been actively demanding a closer bond with the Russian Federation.  It is why after the protests over rigged polls in 2020, Khajimba’s resignation has been positively taken by Tbilisi. He was succeeded by Aslan Bzhania, who expressed the willingness for dialogue and establishment of a bilateral channel with the Georgian side. Still, the toneless response of the Georgian government and the public views in Abkhazia showed again that no changes are to be expected any time soon. It has been Kremlin curators who contributed to removing Khajimba from the post, and Bzhania, the former employee of Federal Security Service in the Russian Federation, has the least to do with being the non-Russian political actor.

While Georgian leadership is constantly afraid of making the mistake of totally losing the break-away regions by taking an actual step ahead, it only contributes to the status quo that is already the lost game. The extensive linkage does not automatically derive from foreign economic aid and soft power. When defining leverage, the organizational power of leadership is an important variable. When naming Abkhazia as a protectorate of Russia, the weak organizational power and limited administrative capabilities are also taken into account. On the forefront of bilateral agreements and declaration of independence, there is a strong one-sided dependence. Moreover, the recognition of Abkhazia by the Russian Federation has only enhanced the isolation and pushed it into the hands of Moscow. It matters little to the Kremlin who wins elections. There is no real force willing to counter Russian influence and even if there is any, the lack of outside support would undermine all its capabilities. As well said, “there is no opposition or coalition in Abkhazia; there are only politicians waiting for their turn”.

Abkhazia has no serious social links or civil society ties with other countries, especially with Western states. Another noteworthy trade partner remained Turkey, which accounts for the second-largest source of import due to the high number of Abkhazian diaspora there. But Russia’s intention rests on limiting any other actor which intervenes in its zone of interest. It proved to be true in 2016 when Abkhazia was pressured to impose sanctions on Turkey and give a major blow to one’s own economy while Abkhazia’s impact on Turkey’s economy had always been close to zero. Abkhazia later justified its actions under Article 4 of the Treaty on Alliance and Strategic Partnership with Russia that makes it align its foreign policy with Russia. The political risks and unpredictable environment reduced all the incentives for Turkish citizens to conduct business in Abkhazia and left alternative potential investors out. Apart from this, Russia reimposed the visa requirements for Turkish citizens that created problems for the diaspora, which tries to maintain ties with Abkhazia. They were made to travel from Turkey to Abkhazia through the airport in Sochi, which is part of Russia. These events clearly show that Russia stays unwilling to compromise creating other options for the region.

The lasting socio-political and economic crises, as well as lack of organizational order, questions the formally retained sovereignty of Abkhazia.  The ruling of the de facto parliament that Abkhazia will not consider unification with Georgia, neither with Russia nor will it hold the referendum on the matter, may be subject to revision when the past will not be enough to justify future decisions.

A Third Party

Although today Abkhazians are decisively against joining Russia, the view of the future generation leaders with a Russian mindset, who are educated in Russia and think in Russian finds solid ground. The majority of the older generation who remembers the war and justifies all the sacrifices by its independence will be substituted by a new cohort of young people. There have been active discussions about the third party which will replace the current leading figures on the political playground. The most prominent in this respect is Inal Ardzinba, currently chairman of the Inter-Religious Public Council for Youth Affairs, existing under the Patriarch of Russia Kirill and the former head of the department in the president’s administration. He is also famous for lobbying Donbass and Luhansk separatists and is considered to commit crimes against the state of Ukraine such as the shift of the border and undermining the constitutional order. Inal Ardzinba seems to be preparing for an ambitious political future that is well known to and supported by Putin’s closest circle such as Vladislav Surkov, the closest adviser and one referred to as an ideologist of Putinism. The frequent show up in media where he voices thoughts on emerging future Abkhazian political leaders serve this cause. Ardzinba announced the creation of the new party representing and empowering youth politicians around.

The Kremlin proved many times that it stays vigilantly on the watch to seize opportunities to engineer support of specific groups for its foreign policy goals. Obviously, it does not waste time to exploit its advantages in Abkhazia. It supports a new generation of politicians in Abkhazia who have the least to do with Georgia and, unlike the older generation of the Abkhazian political elite, are much more enthusiastic about integration in Russia. While Georgia has the image of an aggressor, Russia is seen as a friend and security guarantor. The above-mentioned development of processes could definitely build more barriers with Georgia, which is already left outside the processes.

As in the case of Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, Russia actively uses soft power tools in Abkhazia as well as in South Ossetia. If in the former instances tools apply to the concept of Russkiy Mir to promote language and culture with ethnic Russians, in Abkhazia it is the geopolitical premises that make ideal ground for securitizing the political identity. Abstract ideas relating to nationalism and cultural characteristics remain highly volatile to be integrated into political discourse. And usually, Russia promotes traditional Russian culture and values as well as counters Western liberal influence through the Orthodox Church. It seems no accident that Inal Ardzinba works in the Youth Affairs Council which functions under the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill. For informal or formal incorporation, the Kremlin has a perfect candidate backed by the majority of Abkhazian youth to serve Russia’s cause.

Crossing Another Red Line

Even though the de facto government of South Ossetia has expressed the willingness for succession to the Russian Federation, the latter has been unreluctant to accept the call. The leadership always preferred uniting “two Ossetias” over the claim of the state sovereignty. After Crimea, it is the most likely region to be annexed. So, why Russia does not cross another red line to unveil its power and hegemony over the region?

When information about annexation is spread, it is difficult to draw a line between individual statements and the strategic communication at the behest of the Kremlin. There are many factors unknown for us, particularly, when one needs to deal with Russia’s disinformation campaigns.  What we know is that considering the current circumstances,  the annexation of South Ossetia does not seem to have as many advantages for Russia to outbalance the possibility of maneuvering with Georgia. With the status quo, the Kremlin already poses effective leverage to have an extensive influence over the country.  For now, neither South Ossetia nor Abkhazia may be on the agenda to be a target of Russia’s expansionist ambitions but all it matters for Russia is securing its spheres by all necessary means.

When talking about possible annexation, Russia’s geopolitical interests should be well analyzed. The location of Abkhazia at the Black Sea creates opportunities for connections with the outside world.  And although today Abkhazia is heavily dependent on Russian assistance, it has many other potentials to become a strategic point in the region. For Russia, the Black Sea has always been seen as “near abroad”, which has been instrumental for its projections as a great power. In response to the so-called Color Revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, Russia’s foreign policy became more assertive to secure its presence around the Black Sea. The most important event to reestablish its military presence has been the annexation of Crimea, making it a Russian “platform for power projection”. The event directed attention away from Abkhazia since Russia has already established a strategic military base in the sea. Yet, there is no guarantee when it will be up to cross one more red line to reimpose its dominance in the region. It will be largely defined by the willingness and readiness of the West and political forthcomings in the bordering countries like Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova as well as Turkey.  In case Russia senses any possible encroachment on Abkhazia, there seems no way Moscow will allow to take a risk and let the status of Abkhazia play a positive role in developing the ties with external powers. Apart from the mentioned, regional energy dynamics can make the Black Sea a global arena of competition leading to assertive steps from the Russian side. If annexation will not be the logical end after the disappointment and exhaustion in Abkhazian society, then Russia’s decisive step can finalize the process overnight.


The means adopted by the Russian Federation leads to the legitimate doubt that they might be part of its strategy to annexation. For now, it does not provide many benefits to finalize the process but if the trend continues, whether to formalize the dependence as annexation or not will just be up to  Russia’s own will. The increasing gap between Georgia and Abkhazia does not leave many choices for Abkhazia. Unlike the post-Soviet countries, break-away Abkhazia remains isolated from the world and more exposed to Russian influence. Until what stand will it be possible to maintain vigilance towards the threat to self-identity and independence derives from multiple factors. However, the integration of Abkhazia into the Russian Federation is impending and all the factors work in favor of it. This trend does not seem to be disrupted until there is an unpredictable change falling under the wider geopolitical umbrella.


Tamar Tkemaladze is a senior student of International Relations at the Free University of Tbilisi. She has been engaged in research on anti-corruption, the rule of law, and election monitoring at Transparency International Georgia. Currently, Tamar works in UNDP Georgia. Her previous publications covered the AA/DCFTA of the EU with Georgia.

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Eastern Europe

Untouchable U.S. troops in Lithuania



This month the Pentagon has been accused of blocking the sharing of U.S. intelligence with the international criminal court (ICC).

Located in The Hague, Netherlands, and created by a treaty called the Rome Statute first brought before the United Nations, the International Criminal Court operates independently.

Most countries on Earth – 123 of them – are parties to the treaty, but there are very large and notable exceptions, including Russia and the U.S.

It is interesting, that the Biden White House and State Department have been a proponent of cooperation with the Hague-based ICC, as a means of holding Russian forces accountable for war crimes, but the Defense Department is firmly opposed on the grounds that the precedent could eventually be turned against U.S. soldiers.

U.S. opponents of the court argued that it could be used to prosecute U.S. soldiers fighting in foreign wars, despite safeguards written into the statute stating that the international court would only have jurisdiction if the courts in a suspect’s home country were unwilling or unable to prosecute.

Anyone accused of a crime in the jurisdiction of the court, which includes countries that are members of the ICC, can be tried. Though the court tries people, not countries, and focuses on those who hold the most responsibility: leaders and officials.

And the Pentagon has really something to fear.

The U.S. has sent some 20,000 additional troops to Europe as part of an effort to bolster NATO’s defenses, assist Ukraine’s war efforts and deter Russia. This includes additional deployments to Poland, the Baltic countries and to Romania, bringing current total to more than 100,000 service members across Europe.

According to David Vine, professor at the American University in Washington, DC, the U.S. had around 750 bases in at least 80 countries as of July 2021. The actual number may be even higher as not all data is published by the Pentagon.

The U.S. government attracts people to the Armed Forces by introducing a large number of various benefits and preferences to military personnel.

Since the support for military is very popular in the United States, congressmen and senators, gaining political benefits, actively vote for further expanding the aid package and legal guarantees.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, “We recognize the service and sacrifice of our military and their families, and dedicate resources, services, policies and programs to support the more than 2 million uniformed service members and 2.6 million family members across the globe.”

Thus, the law on civil assistance for military personnel protects them from prosecution during military service and for a year after its completion, as a result of which a soldier cannot be evicted from his home or bankrupt. The law also limits the interest rate for the military – its size when buying a home, a car or using a credit card cannot exceed 6%.

The authorities also provide tax incentives to organizations that employ the wives of military personnel, and oblige them to provide them with a 30-day free vacation once a year. In addition, for family members of military personnel there is a discount in grocery stores, as well as preferential travel on public transport, on trains and on airplanes. In addition, active military personnel and veterans are entitled to lifelong medical insurance, through which they can pay for any medical care.

As for those U.S. troops who serve abroad, there are agreement on status of U.S. troops and their families. Such documents make American soldiers just untouchable. Thus, Lithuania and the U.S. signed agreement on status of US troops and their families in 2017. The agreement gives the U.S. jurisdiction over crimes committed by its military personnel. The document also gives the U.S. the right to use certain military facilities.

Though all these deployments raise separate questions about the nature of the various missions. American troops are often accused of serious human rights abuses.

These cases very often are hidden from the society and known only among those who are close to the Armed Forces. Nobody in the U.S. cares of Baltic States’ local population which expresses dissatisfaction or even scared of foreign soldiers in their territories. The U.S. authorities made their best to protect its military personnel. The Lithuanian authorities in their turn do nothing to protect population from foreign soldiers’ criminal behaviour.

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Eastern Europe

The Ukraine War and Great Power Competition

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A Ukrainian firefighter is putting out the fire after another Russian shelling of Kostiantynivka in the Donetsk region.. By Evhenii Maloletka via

The term Great Power competition (GPC) can be used as a framework to analyze interstate relations, such as those between the United States and the Russian Federation. GPC eras existed prior to World War II, during the Cold War, and in the post-Soviet period. They feature multiple powerful states competing for relative status, position, power, and influence. The primary rivalry during the Cold War was between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. After the collapse of the USSR, there was nearly a 20-year period where the United States was arguably the only super power. Since the 2010’s, however, both the Russian Federation and China have emerged as great powers pursuing interests conflicting with those of the United States. At least since 2018, the United States National Defense Strategy has identified China and Russia as the primary threats to U.S. prosperity.

Great Power Competition is said to exist when powerful nations compete for the authority to shape global security architectures, drawing other countries into their orbit. The competitors also vie for the ability to set the norms and practices of economics, trade, and investment. Additionally, GPC involves countries competing to control the flow of information, as well as the development and regulation of new technology. Competition does not have to mean conflict, however. The U.S. competes with its partners in the E.U., particularly with Germany, as well as with Japan, but this is healthy competition which in the end, improves the competitive environment of the global economy. True global power competition is more of a zero-sum game, whereby the winner will be more powerful and the looser less powerful. GPC often results in war between two great powers, but war, including proxy wars and limited wars, even between actors other than the most powerful nations, can be the symptom of a great power competition.

The Ukraine war, has the markings of great power competition between the U.S.-led western bloc and the Russian-led bloc. The U.S. side includes NATO, the E.U. the rest of Europe, and close U.S. allies in Asia, such as Japan. On the other side are Russia and its allies, Belarus, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Serbia, and China.

Destabilization from Europe to Asia

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, for the second time in less than ten years, is clearly an act of power projection and an attempt to change the world order. The Russian annexation of the Crimea, in 2014, was an attempt at destabilizing Ukraine while creating problems and challenges for the broader European community and the United States. The fact that Russia did not suffer any significant repercussions for its actions in 2014, emboldened Putin to invade Ukraine in 2022. Both the 2014 and 2022 incursions in Ukraine can be seen as extensions of the Cold War and both were attempts by Russia to disrupt the international order.

The Ukraine War is taking place during a period of intense competition between the United States and China. Beijing has refused to condemn the invasion at the UN Security Council or the G-20 meetings. China does not participate in western sanctions. In fact, China is helping Russia circumvent sanctions. As a result, this conflict involves the world’s three largest military powers, threatening the global order from Europe all the way to Asia.

The intensified strategic rivalry between the United States and China carries severe implications for security in the South China Sea and the Asia-Pacific region. Russia and China are collaborating to support the military junta which seized control of Myanmar. China provides money, while Russia provides weapons and oil. The western-led democracies have condemned the coup, but the Russia-China bloc are supporting it, drawing Myanmar into the axis opposing the U.S. and the West. Similarly, both Russia and China are supporting the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan.

Propaganda and Information War

Wars are not only fought in military terms but also across a wide array of domains, including information. Both the Ukraine and Russia have created a narrative. Ukraine has broadcast the message that they are defending their homeland, a sovereign nation, suffering a foreign invasion. Russia claims to be annexing a historically Russian piece of land. Putin has stated that he is reuniting Ukrainians and Russians which have always been one people. He also maintains that his fight is necessary for the preservation of Russia, as he accused the west of wanting to erase Russia from the map. The west has portrayed the war as a battle against authoritarianism and for the preservation of democracy. The White House issued a statement in February, reconfirming the U.S. support for Ukraine, citing territorial integrity, democracy, dignity, human rights, and “the UN Charter that unites the whole world.”

In its attempt to control the narrative, the Kremlin has shut down newspapers and other media, killed or intimidated journalists, and jailed or otherwise silenced critics and protesters. However, these information warfare efforts have failed, as the U.S. and western allies have managed to present the world with a different picture, painting Russia in a worse light.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) working together with their Ukrainian partner, the Institute of Mass Information (IMI), have determined that since the war began, 12,000 Ukrainian and foreign journalists have been accredited to cover the war, exposing frequent Russian bombardment of and deliberate targeting of civilians and journalists. So far, eight journalists have been killed. Twenty-six have been specifically targeted, and 19 have been injured. Russian forces have targeted 16 TV towers, and committed 42 cyber-crimes against media, while shutting down 217 media.

Despite Russian efforts to the contrary, Reporters Without Borders has managed to continue supporting journalists. They have supplied 750 journalists with protective equipment, 91 media with power sources, 28 media with funding, 288 journalists with training, and 129 with financial assistance.

In addition to the official press, social media has also played a tremendous role in this war. Ukrainians have uploaded images of their suffering and published photos and videos of Russian failures. These social media efforts have attracted western support for Kyiv, while encouraging Ukrainians to keep fighting. In the blurred world between cyber and real life, U.S. companies, such as Microsoft, have been able to nullify some of Russia’s advantages in space and telecommunications. Russian entities were kicked off many internet platforms and social media, further detracting from Moscow’s ability to control the story. Furthermore, the largest, most widely read media are owned by the Americans and the Brits. And so, they were able to tailor the message coming out of the war.

Sanctions as Weapons

Although there are two combatants in the Ukraine war, many more countries are involved politically, diplomatically, and economically. Some are providing weapons and training. Others help with intelligence, allowing Ukraine to use their satellite guidance systems. Additionally, the U.S. and its allies are waging economic war against Russia by bringing sanctions.

Not only governments, but also private businesses have joined in the fight by organizing their own boycotts and bans on commerce with Russia. McDonalds and other corporations have pulled out of Russia. Visa, Master Card, and Paypal have suspended service in Russia, making it difficult for Russian entities to conduct international business or to send or receive payments.

The official sanctions, naming high ranking government officials as well as specific companies, are meant to disrupt Moscow’s ability to finance the war. To this end, the foreign currency reserves and other assets of the Russian government and oligarchs have been frozen in foreign banks. Specific sectors of the economy have been completely cutoff from trade with allied nations. The most damaging blow to the Russian economy has been a price-cap imposed on the export of Russian oil. Allied nations have prohibited their ships and insurers from engaging in trade of Russian oil which exceeds the cap price of $60 per barrel. Together, these sanctions limit Moscow’s access to hard currency in a world where the ruble is effectively useless in international trade.

On the opposing side, Moscow’s allies, as well as officially unaligned countries, Turkey, India, and Vietnam, continue to trade with Russia. The non-convertibility of the ruble and the inability to use major international payment systems, however, has complicated this trade. Furthermore, in order to convince countries to violate sanctions, Russia has to offer oil at below market prices. Shipping to India adds about $11 per barrel to the cost, nullifying Russia’s additional profits when the world price of oil dips below $70 per barrel.

Rewriting the International Security Architecture

The Ukraine War has caused the realignment of the world’s nations into three categories: the U.S. camp, the Russian camp, and those who refuse to take sides, remaining non-aligned. NATO and the U.S. sided against Russia immediately. This was to be expected, given the U.S. leadership of NATO and that NATO was formed to prevent the expansion of the USSR. However, European nations who were not NATO members also joined the western bloc. The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution condemning the invasion. Among the Asian countries that voted with the western bloc were Singapore, South Korea, and Japan.

Thirty-five countries, however, abstained from a vote of condemnation, three of which were British Commonwealth states South Africa, Pakistan, and India. All the BRICS countries abstained from the vote, including Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

Western countries, along with western aligned allies in Asia and elsewhere, feel that the west is maintaining a global, rules-based order. Finland and Sweden have asked to join NATO, while the Balkan States have shifted even more towards the western orbit. Many Asian and African countries, however, found it better to remain unaligned, so they could continue to trade with Russia. These nations are not, however, rallying with overt support for the Russian side.

New Technologies

With its chip bans and other restrictions on the sale of technology to Russia, the U.S. is rewriting the rules on Russia’s use of technology and most likely impacting Russia’s future technological development. Drones have played a significant role in the war so far and now it seems that Russia has deployed hypersonic missiles. The chips and other technological inputs needed to manufacture and maintain these technologies are all covered by the U.S. sanctions. At the same time satellites are proving critical as they are being used for imaging and directing fire. Moscow has threatened to attack U.S. satellites aiding Ukraine. Meanwhile, the EU has officially ended its cooperation with the Russian Space Agency. These and other sanctions are expected to cripple the long-term development of Russia’s space program.

Great Power Competition

What started out as a simple conflict between two states over the control of territory, became a great power competition between the U.S.-led west and the Russian Federation. Without firing a shot at one another, the two actors are battling for hearts and minds, to control the narrative, to win-over new supporters, and to establish which is the greater power. Even more, both sides believe that losing would mean a permanent loss of power.

Applying the definition of great power competition: The Ukraine war involves two large nations, the U.S. and Russia, competing for the authority to shape the global security architecture. The U.S. has built a coalition, including NATO, the EU, and far away allies, rewriting the existing global security architecture. In great power competition, two powerful nations compete to set the norms and practices of trade and investment. By organizing a coalition and bringing sanctions, the U.S. has is now dictating the norms and practices of trade with Russia and controlling Russia’s trade with most of the world.

Another aspect of GFC is competition for the development and regulation of new technology. The Russian Spacey Agency has been banned from cooperation with Europe, and Moscow’s access to chips has bas been restricted. Effectively, the U.S. is controlling the development and regulation of Russia’s technology. Therefore, it can be concluded that the Ukraine War is a great power competition which will most likely set the tone for all future conflicts.

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Eastern Europe

Lithuania is on a slippery slope hosting NATO troops



nato exercise

As Lithuania not only calls on NATO partners to increase military presence on its territory, the authorities also allocate large sum of money to develop national military infrastructure.  

Thus, the Ministry of National Defence is implementing an infrastructure development project in preparation for hosting the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force. The contract was signed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency as the project coordinator and Merko Statyba UAB.  

As a result, 10 buildings will be constructed to house barracks, mess-hall, vehicle repair facility, helipads, multipurpose facility, etc. The work is planned to be completed by 2026. The assessed worth of the contract is over EUR 110 million. 

According to Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas, Lithuania is developing infrastructure to strengthen deterrence and defence. 

But this large-scale project does not look like a defensive one. Completion of the project will make the Pabradė Training Area capable of hosting up to 3 thousand military personnel and one of the most developed military ranges in the Baltics! It will ensure good conditions for training activities and resting, as well as logistical and technical support.  

It is just one of the several Lithuanian Armed Forces modernization projects the Ministry of National Defence is implementing with coordination by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency. 

The question arises if Lithuania considers the Ukrainian crisis lasts for 3 more years or authorities try to hide the real purpose of the modernization efforts. 

In fact such plans will not help Lithuania to defend itself in near future because the project to be finished only by 2026.  

The more so, at the end of February Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis confirmed that there is no direct military threat at Lithuania’s border. 

It could be concluded that Lithuania or its NATO partners considers Lithuania’s military infrastructure as a starting point for any offensive operations, which could jeopardize complex relationships with neigbours. 

It is well known that most interstate wars are fought or begin between neighbors. These steps will make it harder for Lithuania to improve relations and even could re-start an arms race and threaten seriously the stability of the region. It is quite evident that ordinary residents do not need such consequences of political decisions. On the other hand, authorities insist on further militarization of Lithuania and thus complicate the prospects for normalizing relations with neighbors bring the war closer.

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