The empire strikes back: War without war and occupation without occupation in the Russian sphere of influence

by Elizabeth Cullen Dunn and Michael S. Bobick

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By Elizabeth Cullen Dunn and Michael S. BobickFull Article:

Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine constitute a new form of warfare distinctly suited for a 21st-century battlefield. Through a comparative analysis of the political technologies it has deployed there and in two other conflict zones, Georgia and Moldova, we maintain that Russia is implementing a new political strategy that utilizes fear and intimidation to thwart a further eastward expansion of the European Union and NATO. By masking Russian “occupation without occupation” as humanitarian and as fulfilling a “responsibility to protect,” Vladimir Putin satirizes the moral and legal arguments used by Western states to justify their own international intervention. Ultimately, we argue that the pervasive fear created by Eurasia’s frozen conflicts constitutes a new form of post-Soviet liminality that challenges the norms of the international system.