Great and Small Games in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

by Tomasz Pugacewicz (Volume editor) Marcin Grabowski (Volume editor)
©2022 Edited Collection 372 Pages


With 30 years having passed since Central Asia and the South Caucasus emerged on the international stage, a new approach to understanding its contemporary dynamics is required. This volume argues for a multidimensional analysis of international, regional, and domestic cooperation and conflicts in the region. The authors analyze foreign policies of great powers such as Russia, China, U.S., EU, Japan, and Iran toward this part of the world. The work looks at regional issues and regionalism, including the Eurasian Union and the Belt and Road Initiative. A series of chapters study domestic processes ranging from clan politics, identity construction, the media, to non-state actors. The publication applies theoretical pluralism and utilizes realism, liberalism, constructivism, and FPA.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction (Tomasz Pugacewicz, Marcin Grabowski)
  • 1. Multidimensional Analysis of International, (Intra-)regional and Domestic Politics in Central Asia and the South Caucasus (Tomasz Pugacewicz, Marcin Grabowski)
  • Great Powers in Central Asia and the South Caucasus
  • 2. The Policy of the Russian Federation towards Central Asia (Piotr Bajor)
  • 3. U.S. Decision-making on the Use of Drones before 9/11: A Case Study on UAVs Operating from Uzbekistan over Afghanistan (Tomasz Pugacewicz)
  • 4. The Importance of Central Asia in Iranian Foreign Policy: Between Idealism and Reality (Przemysław Osiewicz)
  • 5. EU Development Assistance to Central Asia: an Interest-driven and Value-driven Hybrid (Magdalena Kania)
  • 6. Striving for the Recognition: Japanese Foreign Policy Towards Central Asia (Agnieszka Batko)
  • Regional Issues and Regionalism
  • 7. Russian Economic Linkage and the Eurasian Union in Central Asia (Randall Newnham)
  • 8. Belt and Road Initiative: A Tool for Reshaping the Structure of the Central Asian System? (Marcin Grabowski, Jakub Stefanowski)
  • 9. Georgia, South Caucasus Equilibrium and the Turkish Role. How do Non-state Actors Act and React? (Alessia Chiriatti)
  • 10. Caspian Sea Littoral States in the Energy Security Policy of the People’s Republic of China (Justyna Misiągiewicz)
  • Domestic Politics in Central Asia and the South Caucasus
  • 11. From Clan Politics to Grand Politics: Central Asian Policies vis-à-vis the Great Powers (Michał Lubina)
  • 12. Patterns of Nationalism and National Identity Construction in Central Asian Republics (Paulina Niechciał)
  • 13. Between Public Service and Serving the State. The Role of the Media in the Political System of Kazakhstan (Rafał Kuś)
  • Conclusion (Tomasz Pugacewicz, Marcin Grabowski)
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Notes on the Authors
  • Index
  • Series Index

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Tomasz Pugacewicz, Marcin Grabowski


In the second decade of the twenty-first century, we can observe an acceleration of the transformation of the international order, with Russia’s and China’s more assertive policies in their neighborhoods and the willingness of those two powers to undermine US-established rules and institutions, especially discernible since the turn of 2013 and 2014. How these two actors behave in Central Asia and the South Caucasus – a region with the overlapping and contrasting interest of both sides – is a fascinating topic. Additionally, it is also curious to what extent this global change is affecting the position of a state which was praised not so long ago as a (liberal) hegemon, i.e. United States. After the Cold War, the U.S. was able to exercise its power in such geographically remote areas of the world as post-Soviet Central Asia and the South Caucasus.

During our discussions, we became increasingly aware that there are many clichés in studies on the policies of great powers toward this region, among which the concept of the states of Central Asia and the South Caucasus being mere pawns in the hands of more powerful external actors playing their periodic great game was the most popular. This led us to the initial conclusion that without reference to small games, as we began to call them, we are unable to fully understand the dynamics of international politics in Central Asia and the South Caucasus. By small games we understand all developments which are not strictly or in the first instance connected with the involvement of out-of-the-region powers – i.e. the intraregional dynamic between states constituting Central Asia and the South Caucasus, and the intrastate relations among domestic actors (e.g. interclan politics). Based on the preliminary investigation of those intraregional and domestic issues, we concluded that the global power transition in the case of Central Asia and the South Caucasus is accompanied by (still slow but yet) transformation at the level of the abovementioned small games as e.g. the generation of ruling-politicians who established independent republics is dying out.

Understanding that the driving factors of international politics in Central Asia and the South Caucasus are multilevel, one can also observe conflict alongside cooperation and with one of the key factors being regionalism. Regional issues and regionalism have gained increasing importance in the early twenty-first century in tandem with the decline of globalization. Therefore, we have observed a growing role of regional integration, also with the participation of the states of Central Asia and the South Caucasus. This phenomenon has been determined by global changes, encouraging countries located in Central Asia and the South Caucasus to cooperate more closely and integrate, but also supported by crucial regional ←9 | 10→players, namely Russia and China, using regional integration as a leverage tool to increase their influence in the region.

In the context of all the above-described processes shaping the current state of affairs in Central Asia and the South Caucasus – i.e. multiagency rivalry and cooperation on different levels of analysis – a relevant research gap could easily be identified. Even though this region emerged on the international stage around 30 years ago, trends taking shape at the international (inter- and intra-)regional and domestic levels in the last seven years highlight the need to reexamine the role of this part of the world in international relations. At the global level, the U.S. – focused for many years on projecting its power in this region – is more restrained as it faces opposition from Russia and China, two powers who are cooperating (more) whilst (still) remaining rivals. At the same time, the growing capabilities and assertiveness of out-of-this part of world regional powers – such as Turkey or India – are ready to transform the international environment of Central Asia and the South Caucasus. In the context of intraregional forces, we can observe a growing differentiation between energy resource-rich countries against those without these kinds of means at their disposal. This is changing the regional balance of power, as we could see in 2020 in reference to the Azeri-Armenian conflict in Nagorno Karabakh. Finally, processes in domestic politics are also changing Central Asia and the South Caucasus as the post-Soviet generation of leaders is leaving the stage (e.g. Islam Karimov died in 2016) and previously frozen conflict are thawing (e.g. part of the 1997 peace accord in Tajikistan was broken as the Islamic Renaissance Party was banned in 2015). In conclusion, questions on the processes shaping Central Asia and the South Caucasus at the end of the second and the beginning of the third decade of the twenty first century are almost as important as they were in the middle of the 1990s when the region first emerged.

Understanding that we are living in a period when we can simultaneously observe a transition in great and small games in Central Asia and the South Caucasus, we decided to invite other scholars to join us in researching this phenomenon. Based on a call for papers, scholars interested in the project delivered short research proposals. Twelve were selected, and articles based on those proposals finally constitute the chapters of this volume, with the addition of an introductory chapter focused on multidimensional analysis of the region. The scope, research questions and hypotheses, theoretical perspectives, structure of individual chapters are outlined below.

A few general remarks are necessary in reference to the scope of the Central Asia and South Caucasus states and outside powers, as well as about some of the theoretical perspectives and methodological issues discussed in this volume. As it was not possible to cover all the affairs connected with the chosen perspective, this volume presents some processes in more depth than others. In the case of Central Asia and the South Caucasus, almost half of the authors referred to at least half of the states constituting this region (Piotr Bajor, Marcin Grabowski ←10 | 11→and Jakub Stefanowski, Michał Lubina, Przemysław Osiewicz, Magdalena Kania, and Agnieszka Batko), others focused on Kazakhstan (Randall Newnham, Justyna Misiągiewicz, and Rafał Kuś), Kyrgyzstan (Randall Newnham, and Paulina Niechciał), Tajikistan (Paulina Niechciał), Turkmenistan (Justyna Misiągiewicz), Uzbekistan (Tomasz Pugacewicz), and Georgia (Alessia Chiriatti). In regard to the out-of-region actors involved in Central Asia, the main points of reference were China (Justyna Misiągiewicz, Marcin Grabowski and Jakub Stefanowski, Michał Lubina), Russia (Randall Newnham, Piotr Bajor, Michał Lubina), the United States (Tomasz Pugacewicz, Michał Lubina), the European Union (Magdalena Kania), Turkey (Alessia Chiriatti), Iran (Przemyslaw Osiewicz) and Japan (Agnieszka Batko). The authors directly referred or intuitively used categories developed in International Relations from the following theoretical traditions: realism (Piotr Bajor; Marcin Grabowski and Jakub Stefanowski, and Michał Lubina), both realism and liberalism (Magdalena Kania, Agnieszka Batko), liberalism (Randall Newnham), the Copenhagen School (Justyna Misiągiewicz, Alessia Chiriatti), constructivism (Przemyslaw Osiewicz, Paulina Niechciał, and Rafał Kuś), and Foreign Policy Analysis (Tomasz Pugacewicz, Przemysław Osiewicz, and Michał Lubina). As pure theoretical approaches are becoming less popular, we can also observe a growing tendency toward theoretical pluralism or even eclecticism in this volume (understood as it is by Sil and Katzenstein), allowing authors to analyze discussed phenomena from various perspectives and finding new explanations. At the level of research design, all chapters are based on single or multiple case studies and, as a result, the whole volume should be perceived as one comparative case study. In almost all of the chapters, qualitative text analysis and sometimes descriptive statistics are the primary method of data collection and analysis. The main sources of data were academic literature, the media, interviews with politicians, and publicly available documents.

In the introductory chapter, entitled Multidimensional Analysis of International, (Intra-)regional and Domestic Politics in Central Asia and the South Caucasus, the editors describe the main ideas employed to understand post-Cold War Central Asia and the South Caucasus. At the international level, five concepts of Central Asia and the South Caucasus were presented: (1) “flank” of out-of-region neighboring countries; (2) the Caspian Sea basin; (3) the new Silk Road; (4) the new Great Game; and (5) a new region and space for regionalism. Secondly, at the intraregional level, border disputes, and water and energy management disagreements were introduced as the main tools to understand regional relations. Finally, at the intrastate (domestic) level different conflicts between elites (reform v. rent-seeking, secular v. religious, inter-clan rivalry) and ethnic groups were characterized.

The whole volume is divided into three parts devoted to the great powers, regional issues and regionalism, and domestic politics in Central Asia and the South Caucasus.←11 | 12→

Great Powers in Central Asia and South Caucasus

Central Asia and the South Caucasus have been a playing field for great games for centuries, and especially since the rivalry between the great powers intensified in the nineteenth century. This was clearly discernible in the British-Russian rivalry prior to the First World War or in the Soviet-American competition during the Cold War. The latter period was naturally focused on Afghanistan, as other Central Asian states were part of the Soviet Union, as was the South Caucasus region. Therefore, the end of the Cold War opened up a new era in the rivalry of the great powers or great games in Central Asia and the South Caucasus, one engaging global players like the United States, Russia and China, but at the same time also the regional players, analyzed in this book.

Piotr Bajor, in his chapter entitled The Policy of the Russian Federation towards Central Asia, introduces a research question concerning the key factors determining Russia’s policy towards Central Asia. The author proposes multiple hypotheses focused on political, economic and security issues and Bajor declares an adherence to a realist theoretical framework of analysis. In the first part of the chapter, the conditions under which Russian policy toward Central Asia has developed are elaborated. Next, based on strategic governmental documents, the declared goals of the Russia Federation toward this region are presented. Subsequently, the implementation of the abovementioned aims are analyzed in reference to bilateral and multilateral relations between Russia and the states of Central Asia. Finally, the latest trends impacting the discussed issues are characterized.

Tomasz Pugacewicz in his chapter U.S. Decision-making on the Use of Drones before 9/11: A Case Study on UAVs Operating from Uzbekistan over Afghanistan, focuses on explaining five decisions taken between 2000 and 2001 regarding the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) departing from the territory of Uzbekistan for actions in the airspace of Afghanistan. Much work has been published on U.S. policy toward Afghanistan and counter-terrorism prior to the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks, but relatively few have focused directly on the abovementioned decision-making process. In order to explain this phenomenon, Pugacewicz utilizes two theories of foreign policy decision-making: the bureaucratic politics model and the advisory system framework. Those two explanatory theories were selected based on the decisional unit approach and the identified decision-makers involved in the analyzed process. The chapter is divided into four parts. In the introduction, the theoretical concepts, a literature review, and the empirical context are discussed. In the first part, actors involved in the decision-making on the mentioned issue are identified along with their preferences. In the next part, the decision-making process is reconstructed according to two foreign policy theories associated with the decisional unit composition identified. In the conclusion, the explanatory power of the applied approaches is assessed.

The main focus of Przemysław Osiewicz’s chapter The Importance of Central Asia in Iranian Foreign Policy: Between Idealism and Reality centers around the issue of whether one can observe continuity or change in the framework ←12 | 13→of Iran’s attitude toward Central Asia in the post-Cold War era. Primarily, he is interested in the question of whether Iranian presidents pay attention to political and economic developments in Central Asia and to what extent they continue or change the strategies and actions developed by their predecessors. Osiewicz’s central hypothesis states that Iran’s foreign policy toward this region after 1991 was formulated ad hoc by successive presidents and, as a result, Teheran’s policy does not constitute a coherent strategy. Osiewicz points out that despite the intensive development of studies on Iran’s policy toward the Middle East, Iranian-American relations and international sanctions, the issue of Teheran’s policy in Central Asia is undeveloped and constitutes a research gap. The author shows the different theoretical lenses employed by scholars researching Iran’s foreign policy, including realism, constructivism and domestic politics. The chapter is divided into four parts. Firstly, various foreign policy approaches in reference to Iran’s post-Cold War foreign policy toward Central Asia are presented. The remaining three sections are dedicated to Iran policy toward this region under different presidents: Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami (1991–2005), Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005–2013) and Hassan Rouhani (2013–2021).

The research question introduced in Magdalena Kania’s chapter EU Development Assistance to Central Asia: an Interest-driven and Value-driven Hybrid refers to the motives behind the EU’s development engagement in Central Asia since 2002. Notably, the author is interested in “to what extent the EU’s development assistance is driven by the value-based approach and to what extent it remains an instrument of the realization of self-interest”. Kania’s hypothesis states that the EU should be more interested in value-driven policy as it is presenting its own identity at the international stage in terms of normative/civilian power. She also indicates a research gap in the academic literature as publications on the EU’s development assistance are focused on this phenomenon from the perspective of policy studies. As a result, the number of chapters focused on EU-recipient countries relations is limited, especially in the case of Central Asia. The chapter is divided into two parts. In the first one, theoretical international relations approaches toward development assistance are discussed (realism, the nexus between security and development, normative concepts, and the idea of the EU as normative power). In the second section, the growing relevance of Central Asia for the European Union is presented, and EU documents regarding its policy toward this region are analyzed in detail.

Agnieszka Batko, in her chapter Striving for the Recognition: Japanese Foreign Policy Towards Central Asia, seeks to answer the questions of “what are the central objectives of Japanese foreign policy towards Central Asia and how the goals are achieved?” The author introduces two hypotheses. In the first one, she argues that Japan’s activity in Central Asia are focused on preventing the great powers, in particular China, from monopolizing access to this region. Secondly, Batko indicates that even though Japan is taking into account its economic interest in Central Asia, at the same time this country is offering a new model of developmental aid for the mentioned region. In reference to the theoretical framework, ←13 | 14→the author decided to employ a realist and liberal approach. The chapter is divided into three parts. Firstly, aspects of Japan’s policy toward Central Asia oriented on national interests and developmental goals are presented in the context of the theoretical concepts. Next, the evolution of the abovementioned Japanese policy is described in detail. Finally, the characteristic aspects of Japan’s unique “aid and development model” is analyzed.

Regional Issues and Regionalism

Central Asia and the South Caucasus had been under Russian or Soviet dominance for generations, hence to large extent this dominance shaped similar political developments, political elites and influences in tis different countries. Therefore, the external unifying factors served to a large extent as a regional identity builder. At the same time, there are many dividing factors in those sub-regions (especially discernible in the South Caucasus), and a regional identity is far from being created. Even though there are similarities between those two sub-regions, mostly connected with the development of modern states under Russian or Soviet dominances, there are distinctive features for both (Central Asia vs. the South Caucasus). Central Asia, paradoxically, may be treated as a more coherent region, with higher integrational potential, one which is actually used being more by crucial regional players, namely China and Russia. The South Caucasus, also due to its regional divisions, is definitely far from the creation of a proper regional organization. Nevertheless, regionalism and the regional level of analysis is becoming important, especially for the consideration of the great games of great powers in Central Asia and the South Caucasus (predominantly the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, and to a lesser extent the United States).

Randall Newnham, in his chapter Russian Economic Linkage and the Eurasian Union in Central Asia, poses a research question as to whether the Russian Federation, similar to other great powers, is using (in positive and negative form) economic instruments in reference to Central Asia’s states in the context of the Eurasian Union. If the answer to this is in the affirmative, the second research question is to what extent those foreign policy tools are country-specific or only generally region-oriented. Concerning those issues, Newnham proposes two hypotheses: (1) Russia is employing varied and country-oriented types of economic leverage against Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and (2) these kinds of instruments have been important in delivering the successful implementation of its foreign policy goals associated with the membership of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan of the Eurasian Union. In the introductory part, the author identifies two main research gaps. Firstly, studies on economic linkages are overly focused on the so-called “hard” cases (e.g. using sanctions enforcing changes in domestic politics) and ignore situations where those interconnections were employed to encourage the employment of less crucial steps. Secondly, research on the post-Soviet space is too often limited to the perception of Russian foreign economic policy in this region to the concept of “weapon,” in result ignoring the complexity and nuanced ←14 | 15→mix of the tools employed. Next, Newnham summarizes the origins of Russian economic dominance in the Eurasian Union. Finally, he analyses two case studies of the Russian Federation’s economic links with post-Soviet states in detail (i.e. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan), and how those interconnections were used to encourage those two countries to join the Eurasian Union.

Marcin Grabowski and Jakub Stefanowski, in their chapter Belt and Road Initiative: A Tool for Reshaping the Structure of the Central Asian System? take BRI as an instrument to reshape the Central Asian regional system in order to reinforce the Chinese position there. The authors indicate that while there is an extensive literature on BRI, the role of this initiative in changing the regional system’s structure is barely analyzed, if at all. The chapter is based on two research questions: (1) can the BRI reshape the structure of system in Central Asia at all and (2) is China capable of driving structural change in this part of the world? Two hypotheses are introduced: (1) the BRI is a crucial element in reshaping the systemic structure in Central Asia and (2) China has the capabilities and resources to gradually change the shape of the regional system. The research employs structural realism (neorealist theory) and in the result is based on the system level of analysis. The chapter is divided into three parts. In the first section, the theoretical setting (including the level of analysis problem) of the researched issues is described in detail. Next, the BRI/One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative is introduced in the broader context of its general aims, i.e. exceeding those associated only with Central Asia states. Finally, the role of BRI project in Central Asia is analyzed at the level of the regional system and in the context of the following issues: military, energy, trade, foreign direct investments flow, and regional integration setting.

Alessia Chiriatti’s chapter on Georgia, South Caucasus Equilibrium and the Turkish Role. How do Non-state Actors Act and React? is focused on understanding the ability of non-state actors to by-pass and influence the foreign policy of the central government and their power to act as an alternative structure to the state in the conflict resolution process. In the chapter, the following research questions are formulated: how do non-state actors work at the regional level?; how do mentioned actors affect governmental institutions?; what is Turkey’s role in South Caucasian security in the context of this state’s struggle to become the leading power in this region? The concept of the Regional Security Complexes developed by Barry Buzan and Ole Wæver is declared as a theoretical perspective behind the research design. Additionally, the literature on “shadow regionalism” and “diffuse regionhood” is utilized. The chapter is divided into two parts. Firstly, the regional security environment in the South Caucasus is characterized, based on a case study of Georgia with a particular emphasis on Abkhazia and South Ossetian separatism and the transnational non-state actors (trafficking drugs, arms and humans) involved in it. Next, Turkey’s role in the Caucasian security environment is elaborated based on this state’s proactive foreign policy in this region.

Justyna Misiągiewicz’s chapter on Caspian Sea Littoral States in the Energy Security Policy of the People’s Republic of China poses its main ←15 | 16→research question as being about the role played by two primary energy producers in the Caspian region – Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan – in Chinese energy security policy. As the same time, she asks whether the energy field is the most crucial dimension of China’s relations with those two Caspian states. Two of Misiągiewicz’s hypotheses are as follows: (1) China, as the largest energy consumer in the world, has given the Caspian region increasing economic importance, nevertheless (2) the energy field is not only vital to economic development but also to the future geopolitical order of the region. The author follows the assumptions of the Copenhagen school of international relations. The chapter is divided into three parts. In the first, the energy resources of the Caspian region states are analyzed in the context of the world reserves. Additionally, the context of the international rivalry of great powers around this region is briefly addressed. Next, China’s domestic demand and foreign supplies of energy are discussed, and the consequences of those for energy security policy are presented. Finally, the gas and oil infrastructure connecting Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan with the Chinese market is elaborated.

Domestic Politics in Central Asia and Caucasus

Great power politics and great games in Central Asia and the South Caucasus depend to a large extent on the region itself, a region composed of groups of states with interesting mechanisms that have shaped their socio-political and economic systems in reference to a set of cultural and historical factors, as well as Soviet or communist heritage, frequently resulting in non-democratic systems. Understanding those mechanisms and ways of influencing them seems to be crucial for conducting efficient and effective policies in the region. It is similarly important for researchers to explore and explain the region, its structure and mechanisms driving basic units of regional and international systems, namely nation states. Therefore, a set of three chapters explaining clan politics, nationalism and media politics in this region has been prepared.

Michał Lubina, in his chapter From Clan Politics to Grand Politics: Central Asian Policies vis-à-vis Great Powers, tries to answer the question of the impact of domestic interclan politics on foreign policy and how international politics influences the domestic distribution of power among different clans. According to the hypothesis formulated by the author, we should expect feedback between those two as interclan politics shape foreign policies and the outcomes of those actions factor into intrastate relations among elites. Lubina indicates that even though there are studies on the correlation between domestic politics and foreign policy in Central Asia, this kind of research is still underdeveloped. The chapter employs neoclassical realism and a two-level game theoretical perspective. The chapter is divided into six parts. Firstly, the general characterization of clan politics is introduced. In the next five sections, correlations between interclan and international politics in Central Asia’s five states are analyzed.←16 | 17→

The research question introduced by Paulina Niechciał in her chapter Patterns of Nationalism and National Identity Construction in Central Asian Republics concerns the leading patterns of the local nation-building programs in the states of post-Cold War Central Asia as employed by their primary constructors. The author proposes a hypothesis assuming that the current nation-building process in this part of the world closely resembles the one developed during the Soviet period. Niechciał points out that, while there are many single cases and comparative studies on nationalism in Central Asia, this region is still an attractive research field. Social constructivism is chosen in the chapter as the employed theoretical framework and the chapter is divided into two parts. In the first, the nation-building process in Soviet Central Asia is described. In the second section, the same mechanism is analyzed but after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The scholar decided to limit the scope of her research to two cases: Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Rafał Kuś, in his chapter entitled Between Public Service and Serving the State. The Role of the Media in the Political System of Kazakhstan introduces the research question of whether Kazakhstan’s media system is an effective tool of government’s policy. The author hypothesizes that, due to the politicization of the aforementioned media, Kazakh means of communication have such potential and are effectively used by the authorities in their undertakings. Kuś identifies a research gap, since most studies on Kazakhstan’s media environment are descriptive, and there is a lack of studies employing theoretical frameworks developed in media studies. The author argues that the studied mechanism could be associated with constructivism in International Relations. The chapter is divided into four parts. Firstly, the main components of classification developed by Daniel C. Hallin and Paolo Mancini are presented. Next, two sections discuss the mentioned theoretical framework in the context of Kazakhstan (the media and the political context). Finally, Kazakh government media strategies are analyzed in the context of the domestic and foreign policies adopted by the state.

In the Conclusion, we present the main takeaways from the individual chapters and discuss some general remarks based on the whole volume. The volume brings different dimensions which are crucial for an understanding of the contemporary Central Asia and South Caucasus, without having the ambition to cover all of the issues, but definitely those most important, especially at the international level (especially great powers) and regional level (with selected organizations), as well as chosen case studies at the domestic level. It certainly constitutes an excellent starting point for further research in each of those dimensions.

The structure of the volume corresponds with the difficult task of supplying a comprehensive introduction to the current problems in Central Asia and the South Caucasus, both at the international, (intra-)regional, and domestic levels. The editors decided to distinguish the above parts, even though they understand the fact that those levels and their different dimensions certainly overlap and influence on another in the real world.


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The publication of this volume would not have been possible without the support of the many people involved in it. In the first instance, we would like to express our gratitude toward the authors of the chapters, since without their commitment to the implementation of the comments from reviewers and editors alike, and especially their patience regarding the time-consuming organizational challenges faced by the project, this book would never have come to fruition. Secondly, we are grateful to our editors from Peter Lang for their unfailing organizational support. Additionally, the organizational and financial support from the Jagiellonian University’s Faculty of International and Political Studies is greatly appreciated, especially from its consecutive Deans and staff member Małgorzata Jasek. Finally, we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to our wives as, without their constant support and consideration, the delivery of this volume would have been impossible.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (April)
International Relations Central Asia IR theory United States Russian Federation China
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 372 pp., 6 fig. b/w, 27 tables.

Biographical notes

Tomasz Pugacewicz (Volume editor) Marcin Grabowski (Volume editor)

Tomasz Pugacewicz, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. His research concerns Foreign Policy Analysis, American and Polish foreign policy decision making, transatlantic cooperation on security, and the history of International Relations (as an academic discipline) in Poland and the U.S. Marcin Grabowski, Ph.D. is Associate Professor at the Institute of Political Science and International Relations of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. His research interests focus on the Asia–Pacific Rim, especially institutional arrangements in the region, American and Chinese foreign policy, theories of IR and International Economics.


Title: Great and Small Games in Central Asia and the South Caucasus