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The Russian Interventions in South Ossetia and Crimea Compared: Military Performance, Legitimacy and Goals


Russian interventions in South Ossetia and Crimea indicate a major shift in Moscow's policy towards the former Soviet republics. This article compares the two interventions in terms of military performance, basis of legitimacy, and motivational goals. This confirms the formation of a new and more assertive Russian policy in the region. Although there were significant differences between the two interventions, improved Russian military capabilities reveal the Kremlin's plans to project power in the near abroad. The Russian leadership used similar legal justifications for the two interventions, based on the Kosovo precedent, opening the possibility of further military action in the former Soviet space. Notwithstanding the legal excuse, Moscow mainly intervened in Georgia and Ukraine to prevent further NATO enlargement eastwards, regain geopolitical influence regionally, and respond to perceptions of insecurity and a sense of humiliation. With the possible exception of the Baltic States, the rest of the former Soviet republics could, sooner or later, fall under Russia's sway. It is a challenge that the West can choose to confront either with tougher sanctions and more involvement in the region, or by initiating a new process of socializing Russia into the international community, with security assurances and economic incentives in return for acknowledgement of Russia's role as a great power.

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Karagiannis, Emmanuel. 2014. "The Russian Interventions in South Ossetia and Crimea Compared: Military Performance, Legitimacy and Goals." Contemporary Security Policy (September): 1-21. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13523260.2014.963965#.VDLCnmddWtu.

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