Research notes

Call for papers - De facto states since 2020: new realities and theory updates

Concept For at least two decades, the concept of “de facto state” offered a useful framework for understanding prevalent dynamics in these entities for a large number of research questions. However, the past 2-3 years, particularly the second Karabakh War and Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, have brought major geopolitical shifts to de facto states. These violent developments either altogether put an end to de facto statehood in some cases (e.

On humiliation in international conflicts and the Treaty of Versailles

This is the first piece in a planned series of posts on humiliation dynamics and international conflict, and how insights from the relevant academic literature can feed into analysis and thinking on policy decisions related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. References to the need not to “humiliate Russia” by French president Macron in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have predictably drawn criticism.1 In the following months, preoccupation about the risk of humiliating Russia have all but disappeared from the public conversation about the war in Ukraine.

Russophobia in Russian official statements and media. A word frequency analysis

N.B. For a better formatted version of this post, consider following this link References to ‘anti-Russian sentiments’ or ‘Russophobia’ - have a long history that dates back to the 19th century (Feklyunina 2012; Darczewska and Żochowski 2015). However, in recent years references to the alleged spread of ‘Russophobia’ in the West have apparently become more common and more politically consequential, in particular after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbas (Darczewska and Żochowski 2015).

How much has the 2020 war in Nagorno Karabakh been in the news? A comparison with August 2008 war in South Ossetia

On Sunday, 27 September 2020, a new war started in Nagorno Karabakh. It immediately appeared that this was a wide-scale military operation, as it involved the whole line of contact. It did not take long to understand that this was going to be worse than the deadly clashes in April 2016, and thus the largest escalation in more than two decades. Within the first ten days, there where tens of thousands civilians displaced by war, many hundreds of military casualties, thousands of injured, dozens of civilian casualties… this was, by any understanding of the term, a war.

News on Belarus state TV on 21 August 2020

In the first days of post-electoral protests in Belarus, state news were largely in denial: no mention of the protests or tiny segments suggesting not much was going on, with routine coverage of Lukashenko doing routine visits and such. After more than 10 days of protests, things have changed considerably. Panorama, an evening news programme supposed to last 50 minutes according to schedule, went on for two full hours. Most of it was dedicated to discussing in one way or the other the “complex political situation” in the country.

Non-recognition is the symptom, not the cause

My PhD thesis - What is the effect of non-recognition? The external relations of de facto states in the post-Soviet space - is now online and can be downloaded freely. Aware of the limited allure of a 300-pages pdf file, I decided to outline here some key outcomes (not necessarily the conclusions), as well as some additional thoughts. 1. Non-recognition is the symptom, not the cause First, a one-paragraph summary of my conclusions.

Abkhazia’s parliamentary elections: not for the famous?

Is being famous nationally an asset or a liability for candidates competing in a single-constituency electoral system in a small polity? Judging from the recent elections in Abkhazia, certainly not a big asset, and probably a liability, in particular in the second round. In this post, “being famous” is operationalised as “number of mentions of given candidate” in Abkhazia’s main news agency. Relevant data are presented in a few graphs below.

Word frequency of Ukraine, Crimea, DNR/LNR and Novorossiya on

The data included in this post were prepared for publication on the online journal Ukraine-Analysen 182 ( This is a quick update to the data presented in a previous post published on this blog in November 2015 on “ Word frequency of ‘Ukraine’, ‘Crimea’, and ‘Syria’ on Russia’s First Channel". The dataset has been created by extracting textual contents of each news item published on Pervy Kanal’s website between the beginning of Putin’s presidency on 7 May 2012 and 1 March 2017 (115.

Russian media: more Trump than Putin

Recently, Scan Interfax revealed that in the month of January 2017, for the first time since 2011, Vladimir Putin has not been the most frequently mentioned individual on Russian media: Donald Trump was. The news quickly made the rounds on American media (e.g. on Washington Post, Newsweek, CNN, and others). According to an article by Konstantin von Eggert published by Deutsche Welle, on 15 February Russian state-owned media of the VGTRK group were instructed to stop talking about Trump so much.

Russia and pensions in post-Soviet de facto states

This post outlines basic information about pensions in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria, and the role of Russia in financing the pensions of residents in these territories. It is based on data and information available online, and includes references to relevant legislations and international treaties. All information comes either directly from official sources, or from news agencies quoting official sources.