The course focuses on the main trends in, and the origins and key implications of, Russia’s policies vis-à-vis armed conflicts in and beyond post-Soviet Eurasia in the 21st century. It covers Russia’s approaches armed conflicts and major campaigns of other forms of organized political violence (terrorism, violent extremism, one-sided violence against civilians) both in Russia itself and in other Eurasian states, as well as in select regions beyond Eurasia (the Middle East and South Asia).
The course employs a multidisciplinary analytical framework centered on the human security approach. It considers the role of both state and non-state actors in armed violence and discusses various conflict engagement and conflict management strategies, including peace processes, as well as ways of countering violent extremism, with a focus on their functionality and legitimacy.
The opening section provides an introduction into the main conceptual issues in the study of, and global and regional trends in, modern conflicts and terrorism. It addresses the role of radical nationalism, religious and other ideological extremism in armed violence, its main organizational forms, and some key aspects of political economy of conflicts and terrorism.
The following sections are structured on a case-study/regional basis and explore how Russia’s policies have manifested themselves in the context of armed conflicts: (a) in Russia itself (vis-à-vis conflict and terrorism in the North Caucasus and violent extremism beyond that region, including ISIS-type terrorism) and in such Eastern European cases as Ukraine/Donbass and Moldova/Transniestria; (b) in the South Caucasus (in Georgia and in/around Nagorno-Karabakh) and vis-à-vis main violent threats in Central Asia; (c) beyond Eurasia – primarily in the Middle East (with an emphasis on Russia’s policy on Syria) and in South Asia (with the focus on Russia’s approaches to the conflict in and the peace process on Afghanistan).