• Iryna GRIDINA Professor, Professor of the Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Mariupol State University,
  • Maryna FROTVEIT Professor of the Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy, Vasyl’ Stus Donetsk National University,



the Russian Federation, Donbas, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria, unrecognized state


The article focuses on the analysis of the problem place of unrecognized / partially recognized states and frozen conflicts in the post-Soviet space in the foreign policy of the Russian Federation. Its aim is to identify the key features of the Russian policy toward self-proclaimed republics, which should help to formulate an objective view of the tools used by the Kremlin in international relations. The methodology of the research includes a set of approaches (systematic, objectivity, historicism) and methods (comparative and functional analysis, induction, deduction, case studies). This makes it possible to characterize fully the evolution of Moscow’s attitude towards the separatist movements of the post-Soviet space (from friendly neutrality through a covert support to a full use as a tool of a hybrid aggressive policy aimed at restoring imperial greatness); to explore Russia’s military and economic policies regarding Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) and Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”); to assess the risks posed by Russia’s position to a regional security and the stability of neighbouring countries. The scientific novelty of the article is to summarize the material on certain conflict cases precisely from the point of view of Russia’s role in their exacerbation – thus different examples of violations of the state sovereignty of the post-Soviet republics are considered through the prism of the Kremlin’s contribution to the escalation. The Conclusions. In the article it is emphasized that Russia is primarily responsible for supporting the functioning of several unrecognized states in the territory of the former USSR. At the beginning of the 1990-ies, Moscow was not the sole initiator of the conflicts that led to this situation – however, it successfully used it to secure its presence in key areas of a regional space, and subsequently placed this deposit at the service of its imperial ambitions. Following the revision of Russia’s approach to the world security environment in the mid‑2000-ies, the Kremlin uses the factor of self-proclaimed republics to put pressure on the neighbouring countries, including by resorting to the practice of artificially creating separatist movements as one of the elements of its own hybrid strategy. It is emphasized that the majority of the unrecognized post-Soviet states are completely dependent on the Russian Federation in the fields of security and economics – thus, they are devoid of any sign of independence, and should only be regarded as an integral tool in Russia’s revanchist neo-imperial policy.


Baymukhametov, S.(2019). Bratya po raskhodam. Nepriznannye respubliki prinyali godovye byudzhety [Brothers on Expenses. Unrecognized Republics Adopted Annual Budgets]. URL: [in Russian]

Hai-Nyzhnyk, P. & Chuprii, L. (2016). Rosiisko-ukrainska viina: osoblyvosti rozv’iazannia viiskovo-politychnoho konfliktu na Skhodi I PivdniUkrainy za suchasnykh heopolitychnykh umov[Russian-Ukrainian War: Specifics of Solving the Military and Political Conflict in Eastern and Southern Ukraine under Current Geopolitical Conditions]. Ukrainoznavstvo, 4 (61), 103–121.[in Ukrainian]

Holtsov, A. (2017). Yevraziiska stratehiia Rosiiskoi Federatsii: intehratsiinyi vymir [Eurasian Strategy of the Russian Federation: Integration Dimension]. Visnyk Kyivskoho natsionalnoho universytetu imeni Tarasa Shevchenka, 1 (46), 15–20. [in Ukrainian]

Zamikula, M. (2017). Rosiiski viiskovi ob’iekty za kordonom [Russian Military Facilities Abroad]. URL: [in Ukrainian]

Ishchenko, V. V. (2016). Nevyznani ta chastkovo vyznani derzhavy v suchasnomu mizhnarodnomu pravi [Unrecognized and Partially Recognized States in Modern International Law]. Visnyk NTUU “KPI”. Politolohiia. Sotsiolohiia. Pravo, 3–4 (31–32), 209–215. [in Ukrainian]

Kovryk-Tokar, L. (2013). Rosiiska polityka na terenakh novykh nezalezhnykh derzhav u 2 pol. 1990-kh rr.: pohliad cherez pryzmu heopolityky [The Russian Policy on the Territory of New Independent States during the 2nd half of the 1990-ies.: Look through the Prism of Geopolitics]. Istoryko-politychni problem suchasnoho svitu, 25–26, 209–213. [in Ukrainian]

Lebed, A. I. (1995). Zaderzhavu obidno... [Its Shameful for a Great Power]. Moskva: Moskovskaya Pravda, 464 p. [in Russian]

Markedonov, S. (2011). Perspektivy rossiyskikh voennykh baz v Abkhaziii Yuzhnoy Osetii [Prospects for Russian Military Bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia]. URL: [in Russian]

Markedonov, S. (2016). Referendum v Yuzhnoy Osetii. Kak s nim postupyat. [The Referendum in South Ossetia. What will They Do with It?]. URL:[inRussian]

Telenko, O. M. (2018). Rosiia yak derzhava-patron Respubliky Abkhaziia [Russia as a Patron-State of the Republic of Abkhazia]. Hileia, 3 (130), 447–451. [in Ukrainian]

Chernysh, V. (2019). “Russia Creates a Coalition of Unrecognized “Republics” and Plunders Ukrainian Subsoil”. URL: [in English]

Fischer, S., Büscher, K., Smolnik, F. & Halbach, U. (2016). Not Frozen! The Unresolved Conflicts over Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh in Light of the Crisis over Ukraine. Berlin: Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, 97 p.[in English]

Gerrits, A. W. M. & Bader, M. (2016). Russian Patronage over Abkhazia and South Ossetia: Implications for Conflict Resolution. East European Politics, 32 (3), 297–313.doi:10.1080/21599165.2016.1166104 [in English]

Jeifets, V. & Dobronravin, N. (2017). Russia’s Changing Partners: Sovereign Actors and Unrecognized States. Rising Powers Quarterly, 2 (1), 211–229. [in English]

Kobrinskaya, I. (2008). “Unrecognized States” in Russia’s Domestic and Foreign Policy. PONARS Eurasia Memo, 10, 5 p. [in English]

Koelle, H. T. (2018) Russian Patronage to Unrecognized States since the Annexation of Crimea: A Cross Case Study of the Republic of Abkhazia and the PMR. Prague: Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, 85 p. [in English]

Kuimova, A. & Wezeman, S. (2018). Georgia and Black Sea Security. Stockholm: SIPRI Background Paper, 16 p. [in English]

Larsen, J. (2017). Deterring Russia’s Borderization of Georgia. Tbilisi: Georgian Institute of Politics Commentary, No 18, 9 p. [in English]

Military Balance-2018. London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 520 p. [in English]

Nagashima, T. (2019). Russia’s Passportization Policy toward Unrecognized Republics: Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria. Problems of Post-Communism, 66 (3), 186–199. doi: [in English]