Author's School

University College

Author's Department/Program

International Affairs


English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Chair and Committee

Richard Harrison


Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S.-Russian relations, perplexed by constant strains and unresolved contradictions, shifted like a precarious seesaw. The former Soviet space has become a stage for an ambitious political game for regional supremacy between Moscow and Washington. Russia, eager to reestablish its great power status has tried to find a balance between collaboration with the West and its neo-imperialistic ambitions, aiming to preserve the control over its traditional sphere of influence. Washington, allured by the area’s natural resources riches, and after 9/11 terrorist attacks, in need of the region’s strategic location, has been creating its own intricate web: NATO’s eastward expansion; the construction of the BTC pipeline, to undermine Moscow’ regional monopoly over the pipelines routes; and sponsorship of the “color revolutions.” Determined to keep the U.S. behind the “red line,” the Kremlin has been actively reasserting itself in the post-Soviet space: at first, through the elaborate structure of the Commonwealth of Independent States, later, by use of energy as an instrument of political pressure, and even by military means, like in 2008 Russo-Georgian war. This thesis will analyze the development of the post-Soviet U.S.-Russian relations in light of the Georgian crisis. Russia’s complex foreign policy will be discussed based on Neil MacFarlane’s course of reasoning, which maintains that Moscow’s post-communist foreign strategy has been characterized by cooperation with the U.S. and reasserting itself at the regional level, in its “near abroad.” Through discussions of NATO’s “open door” policy, U.S.-Russia geopolitical competition over energy resources and routes, and eventual escalation of the events into the August five-day military confrontation, the evidence will lead us to conclude that MacFarlane’s argument is still pertinent. Moreover, the Georgian conflict vividly reflects the situation. The thesis will follow Georgia’s turbulent history from the ancient times to the Rose Revolution and investigate the underlying causes of the “frozen conflicts” of separatist Abkhazia and South Ossetia. No doubt, significance of the Georgian crisis in a geopolitical sense is conditioned by its direct affect on the politics of the world’s most powerful countries and should ultimately be seen in such a setting. Strife for regional supremacy between a resurgent Russia and the West presents Georgia with bets of high stakes and the grand prize of the Caspian oil. Multifarious historic, ethnic, and geopolitical factors, perplexed by the new dynamics of international and regional interdependence, account for the complexity and unpredictability of the current state of affairs on this post-Soviet territory.


International Affairs

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