Wider Black Sea has long been the region for Russia’s policy of establishing its sphere of influence. Supporting and promoting authoritarianism in general has been one of the pillars of Putin’s strategy. This strategy aims not only to squeeze out liberal democracy from the geopolitical areas of interest but also to prove that democracy and solidarity among democracies is not working.
Currently, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia still stand out as the missing link in Russian strategic puzzle. With ups and downs, publics in these countries have been extremely consistent with their Euro-Atlantic aspirations and they have been acting as strong western allies at the frontiers of democracy. Democratic development and modernization efforts define their geopolitical identity as the Eastern European democracies in the Black Sea region.
This process of statecraft under the Russian gunpoint has been quite painful. Russian military land grab – occupation and annexation of sovereign territories was not enough to derail Ukraine and Georgia from their western course. With hybrid wars launched Russia tries to overtly and covertly interfere in the domestic affairs of these countries by using corruption as the lubricant for the oligarchic networks of Russian enablers. These undermines countries’ resilience against Russian hybrid tactics and makes them an easy prey for Russian predatory policies.
In a regional context, after the occupation and recognition of Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, annexation of Crimea, Russian influence has become more omnipresent. Tilting military balance in favor of Russia gives it an ability to dictate the new geopolitical equivalent of military Anti Access / Area Denial strategy directed against the West by squeezing out democracy from the region. By increasing the military presence in majority of non-NATO countries, Russia has started pushing the new forceful geopolitical integration process.
At present Russia is attempting to mimic the 2008 Georgia and the 2014 Ukraine invasion playbook on a much greater scale – military invasion with prefabricated facts and narratives due to minimal cost it has paid before.
For Putin’s strategy Ukraine is the key country in many respects. That is why Russia amassed huge military assets and manpower at its borders, that is why Ukraine’s fight is our common fight and that is why today Ukraine is more than Ukraine!
Hence, we, the Georgian Stanford Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) Draper Hills Summer Fellows Program alumni stand in solidarity with Ukraine; Call on our strategic allies – NATO, EU and each individual member states to stand firm in defense of our common values and principles and the rules based international order; And request to proactively push for the fulfilment of the idea of Europe Whole and Free and at Peace by accelerating Ukraine’s and Georgia’s NATO membership.
Furthermore, a clear Western policy of supporting and encouraging systemic security, economic, democracy assistance as well as investments in the strategic infrastructure in the Black Sea region, would reinforce strategic connectivity among countries and nations sharing the same values and will positively affect regional dynamics.
With these immediate efforts, besides securing the significant strategic foothold for the west and restraining Russian revisionism, this could mark the beginning of the next wave of democratization and offensive against authoritarianism globally.
Nino Evgenidze – CDDRL Fellow 2013
Batu Kutelia – CDDRL Fellow 2021
Irakli Porchkidze – CDDRL Fellow 2014
Eka Gigauri – CDDRL Fellow, 2017
Nino Chichua – CDDRL Fellow 2019
George Kadagidze – CDDRL Fellow 2016
Nata Tsnoriashvili, CDDRL Fellow 2012
Giorgi Gogia – CDDRL Fellow 2015
Nino Esakia – CDDRL Fellow 2018
Givi Chanukvadze – CDDRL Fellow 2010
Eka Kemularia – CDDRL Fellow 2008
David Abesadze – CDDRL Fellow 2007