04 Mar 2020

Beyond Frozen Conflict

Scenarios for the Separatist Disputes of Eastern Europe

Thomas de Waal / Nikolaus von Twickel

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Following the recent outbreak of hostilities between Azerbaijan and Armenia, we would like to draw your attention to CEPS’ book Beyond Frozen Conflict by Thomas de Waal and Nikolaus von Twickel, published earlier this year. The study presents essential background reading for all the unresolved separatist conflicts of the post-Soviet space and offers possible scenarios for the future evolution of each conflict. Regarding Nagorno Karabakh, author Thomas de Waal explains why – of all the unresolved conflicts – this was the one most likely to see renewed war.

The five unresolved separatist conflicts of the post-Soviet space in Eastern Europe are the biggest risk to Europe’s stability and security. Four of these – Abkhazia, South Ossetia in Georgia, Transnistria in Moldova, and Nagorny Karabakh contested between Armenia and Azerbaijan – date back to around the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991-2, and became called ‘frozen conflicts’.  The fifth is Ukraine’s Donbas, which in 2014 saw large parts of its Donetsk and Luhansk regions violently separate from Kyiv at a cost of 13,000 human lives so far, due crucially to Russia’s supporting hybrid warfare there. This book is the first to give an up-to-date account of all five conflicts in an analytically consistent manner. It charts new territory in exploring systematically a full range of scenarios for the possible future of all five conflicts and offers a basis of sound information for officials, diplomats, scholars and the general public. 

“A compelling and comprehensive account of the fluid conflicts and frozen peace processes in Eastern Europe. A must read for all those who wish to understand the region.”
Natalie Tocci, Director, Istituto Affari Internazionali, Rome 

“The indispensable source for information and analysis on the conflicts and separatist entities on the post-Soviet periphery. Whether you are a seasoned expert or unfamiliar with the region, for both historical understanding and policy insight, this is a must read.”
William Hill, Global Fellow, Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars 

“This thorough and excellent study traces the development of the conflicts in order to make predictions for their further course together with policy recommendations for the European Union.”
Peter Semneby, Former EU Special Representative for South Caucasus 

This book invites the reader to embrace the complexity of the conflicts in the post-Soviet space and disentangle geopolitical manoeuvers from collective grievances.”
Natalia Mirimanova, Founder and Director of the Eurasia Peace Initiative

“An honest, brave, comprehensive and timely analysis of the possible ways of mitigation of the geopolitical risks connected with five post-Soviet ‘frozen’ conflicts. As a Ukranian I completely support their conclusions.”
E. Oleksandr Chalyi, former First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine


Thomas de Waal is a writer, analyst and Senior Fellow at Carnegie Europe, specialising in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus. 

Nikolaus von Twickel is an analyst for conflicts related to Russia and an editor at the Center for Liberal Modernity in Berlin.

This book has been part of a project on the EU’s Association Agreements with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine supported by Sweden through the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida).


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