Strategic alignments and balancing of threats: military and political alliances in the South Caucasus (1991-2021)

Ismayil E., Yilmaz S.

CENTRAL ASIAN SURVEY, 2022 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/02634937.2021.2000940
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index, Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Educational research abstracts (ERA), Geobase, Historical Abstracts, Humanities Abstracts, Index Islamicus, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, PAIS International, Political Science Complete, Public Affairs Index, Social services abstracts, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Keywords: alliances, South Caucasus, Turkey, Russia, balance of threat theory, energy security, SECURITY, COOPERATION, REGION, POLICY, TURKEY


With the demise of the Soviet Union, the South Caucasus has turned into a powder keg for Eurasia with rising nationalism and erupting ethnic conflicts. This study explores the complex factors shaping political and military alliance formation by focusing on the South Caucasus. The article argues that the strategic alliances of regional and external powers mainly target to balance threats. The study demonstrates that each country in the region seeks to counterbalance its rival's ambitions and to secure its existence by allying with strong regional or external powers. It argues, however, that there are also cases of strategic compartmentalization, particularly due to extensive energy ties, which cuts across traditional alliance patterns. In this context, the paper also analyses the implications of the Second Karabakh War.