Role of Russia’s Peacekeeping Missions in its Foreign Policy toward the South Caucasus

This article examines the nature of the peacekeeping missions conducted by the Russian Federation in the South Caucasus. It explores two cases of Russia’s peacekeeping deployment in Georgia’s separatist region of Abkhazia and Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region in order to draw conclusions about the role of peacekeeping missions in Russia’s foreign policy. It also briefly touches upon Russia’s involvement in peacekeeping in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia (Tskhinvali). This article highlights the extent to which Russia’s peacekeeping policies differ from the established peacekeeping norms of the UN by portraying the unique features of the latter’s peacekeeping missions. The article concludes that, due to the distinctiveness of Russia’s peacekeeping concept that has been used as one of the country’s foreign policy instruments in its near neighbourhood, Russian peacekeepers have been more focused on a presence per se, rather than on preventing tension or maintaining stability in the areas of deployment. The article further elaborates the possible military challenges that the presence of Russia’s peacekeepers may pose in the deployment zones and beyond.

Authors: Nina Miholjcic