Pavel K Baev
Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
This slim volume may appear over-ambitious with its claim for advancing the theory of regional fracture and testing it with four cases in the post-Soviet space (Ukraine, South Caucasus, Armenia, Central Asia) and two more cases on Western Balkans and the Middle East. Ohanyan is the main force in theory development, and her ideas on the costs, consequences and risks of the failure to develop cooperative ties and institutions in regions that could have benefitted from integration are interesting and potentially fruitful. As yet, this theorizing is underdeveloped, but it is too easy to criticize definitions of fractured regions as ’institutional creatures that are recognizable as political systems within which constituent states and societies exhibit clear patterns of political behavior’ (p. 21). It is more important to give her credit for addressing a serios lacuna in the studies of international relations, left by the focusing on the dynamics of regional integration and features of regional security complexes – and ignoring the causes of centrifugal processes in many regions. Seven authors of book chapters subscribe to various degrees to this conceptual framework (Broers makes a useful contribution), but they focus more on Russia’s policies, which are but one driver of regional fragmentation. It is increasingly fashionable to analyze the problems of state- and region-building in the former Soviet space as consequence of breakdown of an imperial project and accordingly to apply methods of post-colonial studies to relations between Russia and its former ’possessions’. It is not certain, however, that this approach is essential for the development of theory of regional fracture, which hopefully, will gain a strong impetus from debates on this excellent book.