Event Summary: The New Geopolitical Realities for Russia
On Monday, November 4, 2019, the SETA Foundation at Washington, DC hosted a panel to discuss The New Geopolitical Realities for Russia, an edited volume published recently by Lexington books and edited by Professor Nursin Guney. Moderated by Kilic B. Kanat, Research Director at the SETA DC, the panel included Nursin Guney, Professor of International Relations at Bahcesehir University in Cyprus and member of Turkey’s Presidential Security and Foreign Policies Council, Ellen Wasylina, CEO of the Transatlantic Global Advisory, and Visne Korkmaz, Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Bahcesehir University in Cyprus.
Professor Nursin Guney demonstrated that the idea behind the new book is to highlight the fact that the behavior of Russia necessitates a new theoretical context. Its geopolitical ambitions are constantly changing, so she called for redefining Russian geopolitics as a whole. Russian power projection remains the linchpin of its grand strategy, and its objective is to assert itself as a great power in the international system. It has regained a presence in the Middle East as well as in Africa, seeking to provide better incentives for countries than those of the Western world. When asked about where Putin fits into this equation, she insisted that he is right in the middle of it all. Putin understands that Russia’s role is limited, but continues to inspire rhetoric that does not reflect the realities on the ground.
Ellen Wasylina focused specifically on where Ukraine fits into the broader context of Russian geopolitics. In her opinion, Ukraine is a critical country along the Black Sea and was one of the only former Soviet republics prepared and able to integrate itself into the international system. The revolutions played an essential role in how Ukraine, Georgia, and North Africa developed into cornerstones of Russian and European politics. She highlighted the fact that Ukraine possesses a lot of value and resources that the Russians need in order to continue to project their own power, and she is stunned that Russia did not have a tighter grip on Ukraine after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Professor Visne Korkmaz outlined a few key questions that were critical to her research: how is Turkey’s bargaining power increasing in the face of increasing Russian ambitions, and why is Russia still willing to bargain with Turkey? To answer these, she sought a new conceptual framework to understand the dynamic between Ankara and Moscow. She claims that the United States was ignorant and did not foresee Turkey as a key element of the hybrid strategy that the Russians employ. In this respect, Turkey has emerged as the key actor.