Thomas de Waal Profile picture
Senior Fellow, Carnegie Europe. Scholar and writer on Caucasus, Black Sea, Ukraine, Russia, plus some sardonic Brexit comments.
yudo Profile picture Arthur Egges Profile picture 2 added to My Authors
18 Oct
1 Reports already of breakdown of last night's #Karabakh truce hours after it was agreed. Again a reminder of why a truce is desperately needed: the huge human cost of conflict. (If you don’t need reminding, please look at my Twitter feed over last three weeks.)
2 Take note of what OHCHR, ICRC, Amnesty, have said: Sustained Azerbaijani bombardment of NK itself and its Armenian population, many civilian casualties, destruction of civilian infrastructure, tens of thousands displaced, use of banned weapons (cluster munitions).
3 Many Armenian strikes on Azerbaijani town of Ganje, Terter, Barda, including places where IDPs from war of 1990s were living and were displaced again. Worst strike with many casualties, mass destruction, occurred yesterday in Ganje.
Read 10 tweets
15 Oct
1/5 Georgia votes in a key parliamentary election on Oct. 31. If you missed @Carnegie_Europe excellent (if quite bleak!) discussion on #GVote20 with Giorgi Gogsadze, Salome Asatiani and Stephen Jones, watch here. Some key points:
2/5 Consensus: Despite progress, Georgia is still not a consolidated democracy. Ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party led by Bidzina Ivanishvili commands massive resources and is likely to win unprecedented third term. Parliament likely to have “raucous but not united” opposition.
3/5 Gogsadze: New electoral rules mean 120/150 seats decided proportionally, 1% threshold of entry to parliament. Quota of women means at least 30 female MPs. Coalition possible but GD predicted to win 45-50% of seats. Had big boost from good handling of pandemic.
Read 5 tweets
28 Sep
New thread. I'm quoted here on the #Karabakh fighting. (There is a lot more nuance if you watch the whole interview) I’m aware that people like to quote me selectively so important for me to state a few core beliefs I have about this conflict…
1 No side has a monopoly of justice. Both sides have historical claims to Karabakh. It was the site of a medieval Armenian kingdom in the 12th century and an Azerbaijani (Persian Turkic Shia) khanate in the 18th c. Both peoples have lived together here, mostly peacefully.
2 There is a lot of propaganda out there. Both sides cannot be right, but both cannot be wrong – and frequently are in their assertions. Treat all official statements from both sides with a big pinch of salt!
Read 11 tweets
27 Sep
Horrible news. This AM a military offensive by Azerbaijan on #Karabakh frontline. Already a small war. Heavy weapons used, Internet down in Az, Arm. side announced mobilization. Follows rise in bellicose rhetoric from both sides—Karabakh Arm. leader declared today...
2/ that, if Az. "declares war, it will get war." Early indications suggest Baku wants to remake facts on the ground in regions it lost in 1990s. Perhaps tries to seize a moment when int. community is disengaged, US in election season, OSCE leaderless, before winter comes.
3/ Can't overstate how dangerous this is. Two sides are now heavily militarized, able to strike civilian areas and strategic assets as never before. In 2016 they had a “limited” but tragic short war in which 200 people died. Pressure on both to "achieve" more than back then.
Read 8 tweets
25 Sep
#Azerbaijan reading day! Two excellent articles on its complex identity and how this is represented in cartography and political discourse. First is by teh brilliant @LaurenceBroers who explores changing ideological outlook of post-Soviet…
Laurence analyses 3 phases, each with their cartographic products: in recent times cartographic, sometimes irredentist, obsession with Armenia; before that “cartography of consensus” under Heidar Aliev stressing Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity within its Soviet-era borders
The first phase n Popular Front era of '90s was cartographic obsession with "southern Azerbaijan" (Iran). The Iranian dimension is also the topic of Benoit Filou's excellent article.…
Read 5 tweets
17 Aug
One big Question hangs in the air, as #Belarus crisis deepens, #Lukashenko loses his 26-year-old grip on power. How will Russia respond? I’ve followed Russia’s relations with its post-Soviet neighbours for 25 years. A THREAD on how Russia has no good options. 1/7
Putin--contrary to conventional wisdom--hesitates to intervene in "Near Abroad" crises. @MarkGaleotti calls him "cautious and risk-averse. He is only happy to play the maverick when he thinks he can predict the outcome.”… 2/7
In 2010 the Kremlin stood by and saw Kyrgyzstan’s Bakiev ousted (he took refuge in Minsk). The same in 2018 with Armenia's Serzh Sargsyan. Belarus protests much more resemble Yerevan in 2018 than Maidan. No EU slogans, only the national flag.… 3/7
Read 7 tweets
15 Jul
1/8 Thread on latest fighting between #Armenia and #Azerbaijan. I wrote this piece last October worrying that with no political movement in #Karabakh talks, the conflict could heat up. (writing this also as cannot respond to interview requests)…
2/8 Nothing accidental here. Ceasefire violations are a political decision. Violence went down to almost zero in 2018 after revolution in Armenia due to instructions from both leaders, and with now-ignored 2019 promise to "prepare populations for peace."…
3/8 This is not (yet) repeat of 4-day War of 2016. Fighting is on int. recognized border. This densely populated region was locus of ceasefire violations before 2018 Population is v vulnerable. See excellent @crisisgroup explainer (and read @Olesya_vArt)…
Read 8 tweets
30 Apr
Out today with @ZOiS_Berlin! #Abkhazia, #Transdniestria and northern #Cyprus have universities, academics and students. Due to non-recognition policies, they are cut off from academic exchange and European projects such as Erasmus+.… 1/4
This is a waste of talent, a loss of intellectual dialogue. and a missed opportunity in conflict resolution. But overcoming this learning gap will not be easy.
My report with Sabine von Lowis of ZOIS is the fruit of more than two years’ work in the three places. 2/4
Abkhazia and TN are isolated, with archaic Soviet-era HE institutions. Northern Cyprus has embarked on a problematic unregulated commercialization of its HE sector. It now has c100,000 students, more students per capita than any territory in the world, many from Africa. 3/4 Image
Read 4 tweets
21 Apr
Mixed messages from Russian MFA on Georgia. Today, FM Sergei Lavrov says that he hopes that “in the near future” flights to TBS can be resumed. Says only, “The main thing for us is that the Russophobia campaign in Tbilisi is not inflated.”… 1/5
A few days ago MFA spokeswoman (and ideological attack dog) Zakharova again lashed out at the Lugar Center in Tbilisi, a biological research facility which has helped Georgia contain the pandemic, accusing the US of plotting biological warfare.… 2/5
Lavrov also mentions the possibility of opening up mutual “trade representations” in Moscow and Tbilisi, says he regrets the rupture of diplomatic relations (but fails to mention the reason for them, Russia’s unilateral recognition of Abkhazia and S Ossetia in 2008!) 3/5
Read 5 tweets
18 Apr
Osman Bey and the Snails! As our beloved colleague, Turkey's Osman Kavala spends his 900th day in jail, a group of composers and friends announce a new mini-opera, recorded in lockdown, taking inspiration from his friendship with two little gastropods.
1/4 ImageImage
In this time of isolation, sadly, things have got even worse for Turkey’s political prisoners (meaning the human rights activists, journalists and opposition politicians grotesquely accused of “terrorism.”)…
Osman adopted two snails in jail. A very characteristic gesture. He is best known as a human rights activist and ambassador of culture. But his story of animal activism began in the 1980s with this intervention on behalf of turtles.… 3/4
Read 4 tweets
14 Apr
How Eastern #Ukraine is uniquely vulnerable to a spread of #coronavirus, what this means for the conflict and future of "People's Republics." My contribution to a big @CarnegieEndow overview of conflicts and the virus across the world.… 1/4
Few reported cases of infection in these regions but little faith in the numbers. De facto leader of "DNR" Pushilin more or less admitted on March 27 that they could not afford to shut down economy. That puts the region at grave risk. 2/4
Three big issues. First, 36% of population are pensioners, many with acute health problems. Second, the health system has been severely degraded by five years of conflict and out-migration of around 1,500 healthcare professionals from the region.… 3/4
Read 4 tweets
24 Mar
Disappointing EU cookie-cutter response to #Abkhazia's elections does not even mention #Coronavirus.
The EU actually has strong interest in Abkhaz having a leader who has legitimacy and can take effective control of territory in its current status.… 1
Abkhazia claims it is virus-free, but few believe it. It controversially went ahead with elections, prioritizing politics. Aslan Bzhania thankfully won in first round. Now is time to get real about serious threat to a place with degraded health system.… 2
Through "Non-Recognition and Engagement policy" and UN agencies, EU has capacity to offer direct health assistance to Abkhazia. No longer practicable to welcome Abkhaz to Georgian territory. Russia is poor in its development assistance to clients, unlikely to help properly. 3
Read 5 tweets
6 Mar
Don't call them frozen conflicts! Almost by accident, I seem to have written another book.. With @niktwick. We wrote five papers on post-Soviet conflicts. He did Donbas, I did Abkhazia, S. Ossetia, Transdniestria and NK. Big intro makes it a book. 1/4…
Some general theses:
The 5 conflicts all increasingly diverge, do not fit one template. Don’t call them frozen. Russia plays different roles in each case. Its policy is more dysfunctional than most say, we should not credit Moscow with a brilliant strategy. 2/4
The post-Soviet states in each case (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine) are much stronger than they used to be, less susceptible to pressure and more inclined to look critically at any peace plan on offer. 3/4
Read 4 tweets
29 Jan
1/14 Thread. January 31 and the UK’s loss of influence in the world. Brexit means we lose the multiplier effect of being part of an EU club of 28 and become instead a club of 1. This as the FCO core budget has been cut to a historic low of £1.1bln, or 0.1 percent of GDP.
2/14 The goal is now to fight to stay still. As @CER_IanBond points out today, "Weakening foreign policy ties with the EU might make sense if the UK wanted to pursue a radically different international course after Brexit," but we don't!…
3/14 Here are six more malign Brexit effects:
Loss of EU multiplier effect. As FCO budget has been cut, we have pooled expertise with EU colleagues across the world, and with increasingly powerful EEAS, which in 2018 had 4,169 staff--compared to FCO’s 4,003.
Read 14 tweets
20 Dec 19
Great to see @CrisisGroup analysts getting to grips with the substance of the NK conflict -- something the OSCE co-chairs used to do! Some serious thinking about what to do settlers, peacekeeping, status issues. (shame about some factual errors though!)… 1
Esp. pleased to see section on peacekeeping. Int. security dimension of the conflict has been downplayed since mid-1990s and HLPG has been sidelined. OSCE's lack of PK capacity is also a big constraint. I wrote in more detail on this in 2016… 2
Interesting details here on continued Russian interest in peacekeeping. Key point surely is that France and US have de facto veto and no interest in Russian monopoly on PKs. Verbal agreement made at Key West in 2001 on "no neighbours, no co-chairs," in PK force still applies. 3
Read 4 tweets
26 Nov 19
1. War first crept up on #Chechnya 25 years ago today . On Nov 26, 1994, Russian tanks and Chechen opposition fighters tried to storm Grozny. They were ignominiously captured by Chechen leader Dudayev. It was a national humiliation.…
2. Russian DM Grachev denied the soldiers were his. (Covert war operations were not just a thing of the Putin era, let's remember). The humiliation pushed Yeltsin into an even worse blunder, a full invasion of Chechnya 2 weeks later. I knew instantly that it was a big mistake.
3. How much agony would have been spared, had Yeltsin hung back? Let's not forgot how most of the West cheered Yeltsin on. An editorial in The Times commended Yeltsin for dealing with these "outlaws." Clinton later compared Yeltsin to Abraham Lincoln.…
Read 4 tweets
29 Oct 19
1. Today after 40 years of disputes the US House passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Armenian Americans are celebrating. I do not want to begrudge them this moment. They feel closure and acknowledgement of their grandparents' loss.…
2. I spent years studying the issue. I also call the massacres of more than 1 million Armenians in 1915-16 the Armenian Genocide. It was the worst atrocity of WWI. Though I prefer the term Mets Yeghern, Great Catastrophe, a distinct name like the Shoah.…
3. Like many others, I also believe that genocide, the word Lemkin invented in 1944 is a Pandora's Box. It's both too legalistic and too politicized, it makes human stories into a crime scene, it's a blunt weapon in identity politics. Yet I still use the term Armenian Genocide
Read 7 tweets
22 Oct 19
The word peace has fallen out of use in today's political discourse, giving way to the much narrower "security." But presented with greater ambition, peace can be regarded as the supreme human right and the harmonious condition that underpins everything else in a healthy world. Image
In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. declared, "So we must fix our vision not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but upon the positive affirmation of peace. We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody that is far superior to the discords of war." Image
In our @CarnegieEndow collection of essays Think Peace we discuss "international peace" a century after the Versailles Treaty of 1919 and Andrew Carnegie's death. In 2019 three broad modern trends undermine peace:
Read 6 tweets
21 Jun 19
Some comments from afar on last night’s violence in #Tbilisi Several things can be true at the same time:

1. The police used violent force, apparently without warning, to break up a mostly peaceful crowd, hurting dozens of people. That's unacceptable.…
2. There were undoubtedly some provocateurs in that crowd, probably die-hard Saakashvili supporters , who wanted to storm parliament and force regime change. And last night was also deja vu of the night Misha used violence in Tbilisi in 2007.…
3. Ordinary Georgians were understandably offended at the sight of a Russian MP sitting in their speaker’s chair. Dip. relations were broken off over Abkhazia and S Ossetia in 2008 for good reason. There are still at least 7000 Russian troops illegally in Abkhazia and S Ossetia.
Read 7 tweets
14 May 19
I'm at #Eap10. Some thoughts on conflicts
1. Release of joint statement on 10th anniversary of #EasternPartnership unfortunately blocked by Baku as no reference to “territorial integrity.” Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine would also have liked this but were prepared to live without it.
2. As ever, NK conflict is spoiler. Omit reference to “territorial integrity” and you offend Az, mention it, you offend Armenia. This has been going at least since 1996 OSCE Lisbon Summit. Old protracted conflict not only hurts locals, it's a poison seeping far beyond.
Read 8 tweets
5 Mar 19
On Stalin's death day, quoting conclusions from our 2013 report on post-Soviet attitudes to the dictator (see earlier Tweet)… 1/
Post-Soviet citizens are confused. The poll results are more an illustration of feelings of dependency and confusion than genuine support for a dictatorial government. Russians in particular lack alternative historical models. 2/
Stalin is still identified strongly with victory in WWII. Memory of the defeat of Nazi Germany remains very strong in all four countries polled, especially among older citizens. Stalin is still admired as a wartime leader even as the same people reject his acts of repression. 3/
Read 6 tweets