ISBN: 978-1-5036-3205-9

Pavel K Baev

Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)

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Advancing regional cooperation in and beyond the post-Soviet space would yield tangible benefits for all the states involved, now in their thirties. The failure to achieve it continues to irk the theorists of regionalism. Ohanyan attempts to overcome this disappointment by a) measuring regional connectivity in the range from fracture to resilience; and b) investigating imperial legacies in various Eurasian borderlands, from Bosnia to Kurdistan and Nagorno-Karabakh. The emphasis on resilience translates into greater research attention to non-state actors, which makes sense, but doesn't help in explaining conflict dynamics, beyond the conclusion that violent hostilities signify regional fracture caused by shortage of social capital. The 'imperial lens' allows for more than just blaming the three continental European empires for fostering troubles in their peripheries; it opens a historical perspective for regional studies, which are typically preoccupied with current affairs. Ohanyan doesn't go deeper into history than the mid-XIX century, which is sufficient for Central Asia and the South Caucasus, but less so for the Balkans or the Middle East. The observations on regional dynamics predating the formation of modern states are nevertheless informative. The suggestion of uncovering the impact of imperial administration on regional processes in Latin America and Africa (pp 24–29) is rather superficial, but the most serious flaw of the volume is in the presentation of the Ukrainian crisis as a 'quintessential case of regional fracture' (p 208). The interpretation of Russian aggression in 2014 as a regional fracture inside Ukraine, which failed to manage properly the 'multiethnic and plural fabric' (p 210) is not only factually incorrect, but also indicative of shortcomings in conceptualisation of conflicts.