Since 2014 German and European attention has been largely absorbed by the annexation of Crimea, the war in Donbas and the crisis in relations with Russia. Yet the eastern neighbourhood also contains four unresolved territorial conflicts, which have in some respects developed very dynamically since 2014. The authors of this study examine the role of Russia in these conflicts, the political background, the relevant actors and their interests, and the connection between conflict level and geopolitical context. Together they produce a nuanced picture of the arc of conflict in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood. Their verdict in all four cases is that the conditions for constructive conflict regulation have deteriorated since 2014. Alongside the geopolitical context, local factors are also significant. Russia plays an ambivalent role, instrumentalising all four conflicts to preserve its influence in the affected states, but without enjoying full control of the dynamics. The authors recommend the EU pursue a nuanced policy of conflict regulation that takes into account context-sensitive local factors as well as the international context. The medium-term goals of such a policy range from the preservation of existing channels of interaction (Transnistria) through de-isolation (Abkhazia and South Ossetia) to de-escalation and conflict prevention (Nagorno-Karabakh).
The Transnistria Conflict in Light of the Crisis over Ukraine