In the hope to cross into the European Union, refugees camp in freezing conditions along the barbed wire fence marking the border between Poland and Belarus.
In the hope to cross into the European Union, refugees camp in freezing conditions along the barbed wire fence marking the border between Poland and Belarus. © Polish Ministry of Defense

Russia’s Widening Provocation to European Stability

30 November 2021

IWPR's Frontline Updates – unique insights from our network of local reporters and updates from our programmes.

Moscow has been testing Western defences and resolve for years. From poisonings on the streets of British cities, to disinformation campaigns undermining elections to the seizure of Crimea, Russian aggression has been consistent.

Anthony Borden

Anthony Borden
IWPR FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR


Now comes a potentially new phase, what may be an extending strategy across a sweep of border regions to challenge Western focus and seek tactical, and perhaps territorial, gains. Driven both by Russia directly and through allies – who could only be acting with Moscow's consent if not encouragement – this represents an important escalation.
 

From Minsk, President Alexander Lukashenko drives a policy of ushering refugees into Europe across the Belarusian border. From Banja Luka, Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik threatens to withdraw from Bosnian institutions, pressing the Dayton Agreement to breaking point. In Kyiv, as Russian troops mobilise by the Ukrainian border, President Volodymyr Zelensky warns about the potential for an imminent invasion. Meantime, instability in Nagorny Karabakh highlights Russia’s role as peacekeeper there, and its increasing influence in the Caucasus at the expense of the West.

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For a Western alliance distracted by the pandemic, embittered by continuing Brexit fallout, reeling from the Taleban takeover in Afghanistan and not fully recovered from tensions during the Trump presidency, any one of these crises would be difficult to manage. Coming all at once – and with Asia-Pacific tensions already in focus – they represent a serious provocation against European stability.

The voices of independent media and grassroots civil society are at the frontlines of these major geostrategic disputes.

As our long-standing Asia and Eurasia Director Alan Davis recalls from his reporting from Vukovar in 1991, it is extremely difficult to secure real attention to far-flung conflicts, then as now. Yet these voices are critical. Providing accurate reports of events on the ground. Serving as witnesses to civilian suffering. Presenting voices of hope and humanity amid escalating tensions and war.

Supporting these voices has been IWPR’s core mission since the Balkan conflicts. And as our Frontline Updates show, it remains as urgent as ever, so please support IWPR this Giving Tuesday.

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In the hope to cross into the European Union, refugees camp in freezing conditions along the barbed wire fence marking the border between Poland and Belarus.
In the hope to cross into the European Union, refugees camp in freezing conditions along the barbed wire fence marking the border between Poland and Belarus. © Polish Ministry of Defense

Belarus: Refugee Crisis Not Yet Out of The Woods

While some asylum seekers have been moved to temporary accommodation, the underlying issues remain unresolved.

“They are victims of the cynical game that the Belarusian regime is playing."

Russian Troops Continue to Mass on Ukrainian Border

Analysts see build-up as part of a multi-pronged provocation against the West.

Ukraine's President Zelensky attends a recent military training exercise.
Ukraine's President Zelensky attends a recent military training exercise. © Office of the President of Ukraine
Armenian servicemen in frontline trenches separating the Armenian-controlled territory from the Azerbaijani forces in Nagorny Karabakh, pictured in April 2016.
Armenian servicemen in frontline trenches separating the Armenian-controlled territory from the Azerbaijani forces in Nagorny Karabakh, pictured in April 2016. © Monica Ellena

The Open Wound of Armenia’s POWs

As Azerbaijan captures 13 Armenian servicemen amid the worst fighting since the 2020 war, the fate of other prisoners of war remains uncertain.

IWPR INSIGHT

Vukovar: the First, Forgotten Casualty of the Yugoslav War

Attacked from the east and ignored by the West, the city's plight set a precedent for the coming years of conflict.

Alan Davis
IWPR ASIA & EURASIA DIRECTOR

A black marble monument has marked the site of the Ovčara mass grave since 1998.
A black marble monument has marked the site of the Ovčara mass grave since 1998. © Alan Davis

"Vukovar’s tragedy and the Ovcara atrocity happened when neither the international community nor the media were looking or cared."

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