War & Peace (Season 4)
War & Peace (Season 4)
War and Peace hosts Olya Oliker and Elissa Jobson CRISISGROUP / Jorge Gutiérrez Lucena

War & Peace (Season 4)

War & Peace is a podcast series from the International Crisis Group, in which Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson interview experts about all things Europe and its neighbourhood, from Russia to Türkiye and beyond. Their guests shed new light on everything that helps or hinders prospects for peace. Episodes from past series of War & Peace can be found here: Season 1Season 2 and Season 3.

Season 4

Episode 8: Kazakhstan One Year After "Bloody January" 

2022 was a turbulent year for Kazakhstan. In early January, anti-government protests erupted across the country. The resulting clashes between police and demonstrators led to thousands of arrests and left more than 200 people dead. In response, President Kassym-Jomart Tokaev promised political reforms. Tokaev also quickly began distancing himself (in public, at least) from his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev. Kazakhstan has faced further challenges in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Since September, thousands of Russians fleeing military mobilisation have arrived in Kazakhstan and a wave of inflation is spelling uncertainty for the economic future of the country. 

In this episode of War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson are joined by Nurseit Niyazbekov, professor of international relations at Almaty's KIMEP University, to discuss the aftermath of the deadly protests last January, Kazakhstan’s political landscape and the impact of the war in Ukraine on the country’s domestic and foreign affairs. They address how Tokaev fared politically in 2022 and the prospects for democratic reforms in the country. They also examine the impact of Putin's invasion of Ukraine on Kazakhstan’s economy and how Kazakhstan has balanced its foreign relations since "Bloody January". 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more on the topics discussed in this episode, make sure to check out our Kazakhstan country page.

 

Episode 7: Catherine Ashton on Diplomacy, Ukraine, and Her New Book

From 2009 to 2014, Catherine Ashton served as the European Union’s (EU) first high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. In that role, she was the EU’s senior  negotiator for some of the most important international agreements of the early 21st century, including the 2013 Serbia-Kosovo settlement and the lead-up to the Iran nuclear deal. In her forthcoming book And Then What?, Ashton shares her personal insights into modern diplomacy and her experiences in dealing with some of the thorniest security challenges throughout her tenure.

In the first episode of War & Peace in 2023, Catherine Ashton joins Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson for a conversation on the role of diplomacy in a world where it seems to increasingly take a back seat to conflict. They assess the EU's diplomatic response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year and the efficacy of sanctions as a tool in international relations. They also discuss how the war might affect the European security landscape in the long term. In closing, they ask how to bring more women to the key debates and decision-making roles in foreign affairs and international diplomacy. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more on the topics discussed in this episode, make sure to check out our Ukraine country page and our global issues page on Multilateral Diplomacy.

Episode 6: Understanding the Latest Escalation in Türkiye’s PKK Conflict

On 13 November, a bomb detonated in Istanbul’s busy Istiklal Avenue, killing six and wounding 81 people. Ankara blamed the attack on the PKK, a Kurdish militant insurgency, which has been in a decades-long battle with the Turkish military. The PKK denied involvement in the attack. Subsequently, Türkiye launched a series of airstrikes in northern Syria and Iraq on the PKK and affiliated groups and threatened a new ground offensive in northern Syria. These events mark the latest chapter in a conflict that has seen a deadly resurgence after the breakdown of a two-and-a-half-year-long ceasefire between Türkiye and the PKK in 2015. Since then, the fighting has increasingly proliferated into northern Syria and Iraq, drawing in a growing set of actors and becoming increasingly difficult to resolve.

In this episode of War & Peace, Elissa Jobson talks with Berkay Mandıracı, Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Türkiye, about how Türkiye’s PKK conflict has developed since the breakdown of the ceasefire in 2015 and where it might be headed. They discuss the role of external actors in the conflict, how U.S. support for the SDF in northern Syria affects its relations with Türkiye and what role Russia might play in a potential Turkish offensive in northern Syria. They also address the domestic political situation in Türkiye in light of the conflict, as well as the significance of Kurdish constituencies’ vote in the 2023 presidential and parliamentary elections and how that might affect the future trajectory of the country as well as dynamics of the PKK conflict.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more on the Türkyie-PKK conflict, check out our Türkiye country page, our Türkiye-PKK Visual Explainer and our commentary Turkey’s PKK Conflict: A Regional Battleground in Flux.

Episode 5: Making Sense of Russia’s Changing Role in Africa

For more than a decade, Russia has made a concerted effort to strengthen its influence on the African continent. It has had some success. In countries like the Central African Republic and Mali, Russia has become the preferred partner for the provision of security services through private military companies like Wagner. Meanwhile, France and other Western countries have struggled to maintain their foothold in Mali and elsewhere amid strong anti-colonial sentiment and growing authoritarianism in the region. While the extent of Russia’s influence in Africa remains hard to gauge, the prospect of emerging power struggles between Moscow and Western capitals in Africa may bode poorly for peacemaking efforts on the continent.

In this episode of War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson are joined by Pauline Bax, Crisis Group’s Africa program deputy director, to talk about what to make of Russia’s involvement in Africa. They talk about how Russian influence in Africa has evolved in places like Mali and the Central African Republic. They also discuss what role traditional and social media have played in shaping popular perceptions about Russia and the West on the continent. Finally, they talk about whether growing competition between Russia and the West could hamper efforts to foster peace and stability in conflict-afflicted regions in Africa.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more in-depth analysis on Russia’s involvement in Africa, check out our Africa program page.

Episode 4: A Closer Look at Ukraine’s Donbas after Russia’s Occupation

If war reached most of Ukraine in February of 2022, when Russia launched its full-scale invasion, the country’s eastern Donbas region has been torn apart by war since Russia, having occupied Crimea, undertook operations there in 2014. Since February, Russian forces have occupied even more territory in the region, some of which Ukrainian troops have now liberated. But having done so, Kyiv must grapple with the question of how to govern in the face of deep societal divisions and suspicions that at least some of the local residents collaborated with occupiers. 

In this episode of War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson talk with Brian Milakovsky, an expert on economic development in eastern Ukraine, to unpack what’s been happening in Russian-occupied regions in Ukraine’s east throughout the war and what’s next for people living in those territories that have now returned to Ukrainian control. They talk about the simmering conflict between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas before Russia’s February full-scale invasion, and how it shaped perceptions of national identity in the region. They discuss how Russia’s expansion of its occupation in these regions played out this year, and why Moscow misjudged the popular support for its invasion, expecting a friendly welcome it decidedly did not get. They also address how Ukraine is dealing with alleged Russian collaborators, how they are identified and what kind of treatment suspects can expect. Finally, they discuss whether there are lessons to be learned from the past to overcome societal divisions in Ukraine in the years to come.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more in-depth analysis on Ukraine and the Donbas, make sure to check out Crisis Group’s Ukraine regional page and our Donbas Visual Explainer.


Episode 3: The Still-Perilous Path Toward Peace Between Armenia and Azerbaijan

It has been almost two years since a November 2020 ceasefire deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan ended a brutal six-week war. While the Moscow-brokered deal was meant to end large-scale combat operations, it hasn’t stopped regular flare-ups of armed violence between the two sides since, culminating in September with the deadliest clashes yet along their shared border. Although Armenia and Azerbaijan may now be edging closer to a peace agreement, the negotiations remain fraught. The fighting in 2020 ended with Azerbaijan back in control of territories adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh, which the Armenian troops had held for almost 30 years, since the end of the last large-scale conflict, and parts of that region as well. But a deal would determine the future of Nagorno-Karabakh, including parts populated by local Armenians, where Russian peacekeepers have patrolled since 2020. The prospect of Azerbaijan regaining control makes ethnic Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh nervous, to say the least. 

In this episode of War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson speak with Olesya Vartanyan and Zaur Shiriyev, Crisis Group’s South Caucasus experts, about where things stand between Armenia and Azerbaijan. They talk about the causes and consequences of the large-scale clashes in September. They also address how Russia’s involvement has changed in the region and how its war in Ukraine has affected peacemaking efforts. Finally, they address how views on the prospects of peace differ in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, and what it would mean to create sustainable peace in the region.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more about the political situation in Armenia and Azerbaijan, make sure to check out Crisis Group’s Caucasus regional page.

Episode 2: Bosnia and Herzegovina After the Elections

More than two weeks after the elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 2 October, the country’s political future remains uncertain. While reformist and moderate candidates have seen success in the run for the country’s presidency – a position that is shared between members of the Bosniak, Croat and Serb entities – many of Bosnia’s underlying political divisions persist. Causing further dispute was the announcement of significant changes to Bosnia’s constitution and electoral system on the night of the election by the country’s high representative, Christian Schmidt, which were particularly ill-received by some members of the Bosniak community. Meanwhile, Serb leader Milorad Dodik has faced allegations of vote-rigging in the run for president of the semi-autonomous Republika Srpska leading to a recount of ballots in the region.   

In this episode of War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson speak with Marko Prelec, Crisis Group’s senior consulting analyst for the Balkans, about what happened at the Bosnian elections, the main dispute between Bosnia’s political entities and where the country is headed. They talk about Bosnia’s complicated election system and why it has been the cause of much friction between members of the Bosniak, Croat and Serb communities in the country. They address the intervention by the high representative on election night and whether this move had any merit despite being highly controversial. They also talk about the impact of the war in Ukraine on Bosnia and how it has affected its prospects for European Union accession. Finally, they assess whether the political divisions in Bosnia and Herzegovina are surmountable and how a potential return to violence in the country can be prevented. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more about the political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, make sure to check out Crisis Group’s Bosnia and Herzegovina country page and our briefing Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Hot Summer.

Episode 1: Taking Stock of Russia’s Military Performance in Ukraine

On 21 September, Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilisation in Russia, marking a major escalation of the war in Ukraine. According to Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, 300,000 Russians could be added to the force, although how quickly is not clear and far more may need to be called up to reach those numbers. This comes after significant setbacks for the Russian military, especially in eastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, with Ukrainian forces retaking large swathes of Russian-held territory in a matter of days over September.

In this episode of War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson are joined by Dara Massicot, senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, to take a closer look at the military aspects of the war in Ukraine. They talk about Ukraine’s successful counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region in September and assess the Russian military’s performance thus far, including the very limited use of its air force. They also discuss the decision to mobilise in Russia, what training these freshly drafted soldiers can expect and the potential impact on the war in Ukraine.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more about the war in Ukraine, make sure to check out Crisis Group’s Ukraine country page and our statement Staying the Course in Ukraine.

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