On March 3, 2023, the Institute for Global Governance Research (GGR) hosted a GGR Talk Session entitled “Russia-Ukraine War and Its Impact on the Caucasus” with Dr. Anna Dolidze, a Research Lead at Rabdan Academy in the UAE.
After briefly outlining the geographical location of Central Asia and the Caucasus, Dr. Dolidze argued that these countries, which Russia refers to as its “near abroad,” have skillfully avoided taking a strong position toward either Russia or the West by utilizing a variety of means. Dr. Dolidze pointed to the common characteristics of the Caucasus and Central Asian countries: high economic dependency on Russia, ethnic and religious diversity and conflicts, and the vulnerabilities that result from these factors. In order to avoid this vulnerability, they trade with Russia in a manner that does not violate Western sanctions, while at the same time taking a position of not supporting Russian aggression. Dr. Dolidze noted the following occurrences that became prominent after the war broke out: the increase in remittances sent home by immigrants working in Russia, the growth in trade between Russia and Central Asia and the Caucasus, and the existence of shadow trade, where items prohibited under Western sanctions are repackaged as other products. Dr. Dolidze also argued that Russians fleeing from conscription become important human capital that benefits the economies of these countries.
Approximately ten students participated in the Q&A session, which led to a lively discussion. In response to questions, Dr. Dolidze explained Belarus’s position and Georgia’s perspective on Nagorno-Karabakh and discussed the differences in the West’s reaction between the Georgian war in 2008 and the current war. Dr. Dolidze also discussed the efficiency of sanctions, the possibility of a special tribunal, and how the West should respond to countries that do not actively oppose Russia, noting the fact that Azerbaijan’s trade relations with the West have seemingly changed Armenia’s traditional partnership with Russia. Throughout her talk, Dr. Dolidze emphasized Russia’s colonial and imperial thinking toward its “near abroad” and argued that such thinking, which extends to the common people, must be shown to be wrong.
【Event Report prepared by】
NAKAJIMA Takahiro (Undergraduate student, Faculty of Law)