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Olesya Vartanyan

Senior Analyst, South Caucasus

Crisis Group Role

Olesya Vartanyan is Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for the South Causasus region. Based in Tbilisi, she researches and produces reports on regional security issues in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, with a particular focus on breakaway regions in the South Caucasus – Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia.

Professional Background

Olesya Vartanyan has worked on conflicts in the South Caucasus for more than ten years. Before joining Crisis Group in 2016, Olesya worked as a journalist, with a particular focus on security and conflict-related issues in Georgia and its breakaway regions. With her field reporting during the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, Olesya contributed to the ground-breaking investigations of The New York Times about the origins of the conflict. Enjoying unique access to Abkhazia, for a number of years she covered crisis developments in this region for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. In 2013, Olesya received the first EU Monitoring Mission’s special prize in Peace Journalism. She holds master degrees from the King’s College London’s War Department and from the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs’ Media School.

Languages

  • Russian (Fluent)
  • English (Fluent)
  • Georgian (Advanced)
  • Armenian (Intermediate)

In The News

3 Oct 2020
This is a more serious escalation [over Nagorno-Karabakh], much better prepared, with more troops, and happening simultaneously on all parts of the front line. The Economist

Olesya Vartanyan

Senior Analyst, South Caucasus
28 Sep 2020
We are a step away from a large-scale war (between Armenia and Azerbaijan). Al-Jazeera

Olesya Vartanyan

Senior Analyst, South Caucasus
16 Jul 2020
It seems unlikely the [Azerbaijan-Armenia] crisis would escalate, as neither side has territorial claims on northern border areas and the fighting had not spread to Karabakh itself. Al Jazeera

Olesya Vartanyan

Senior Analyst, South Caucasus
13 Jul 2020
Many people would be very surprised if clashes at the Armenia-Azerbaijan border spiral out into war, but that doesn’t mean something cannot happen, say, in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. OC Media

Olesya Vartanyan

Senior Analyst, South Caucasus
20 Jan 2020
[January] events in Abkhazia come at a time of long-simmering tensions. Civil.ge

Olesya Vartanyan

Senior Analyst, South Caucasus
6 Aug 2018
The current situation does not contribute to the post-war reconciliation [between Russia and Georgia] - it only fuels conflict with an increasing feeling of injustice for [people] living near the dividing line. Al Jazeera

Olesya Vartanyan

Senior Analyst, South Caucasus

Latest Updates

Antagonizing the Neighborhood: Putin’s Frozen Conflicts and the Conflict in Ukraine

In this testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Crisis Group expert Olesya Vartanyan analyses the conflict dynamics in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the breakaway territories from Georgia recognised as independent by Russia, and explains how Washington can promote stability there.

Picturing the Uncertain Calm on Armenia’s Front Lines

Sniper fire and clashes have become rare on the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In a year that has seen positive steps to mitigate the decades-old conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, this photo essay illustrates how some Armenian front-line villagers’ lives have slowly improved.

After a Summer of Protests, Can Georgia’s Government Regain Its Lost Trust?

This summer’s protests in Georgia led to changes to the country’s electoral system. But the country’s new Prime Minister, Giorgi Gakharia, is a man protesters wanted ousted from the last government, in which he led the Interior Ministry. In this interview with World Politics Review, Europe & Central Asia Program Director Olga Oliker and Analyst for EU Eastern Neighbourhood Olesya Vartanyan consider what Gakharia’s tenure will bring, and how the parliamentary elections next year might play out in this atmosphere.

Originally published in World Politics Review

Easing Travel between Georgia and Breakaway Abkhazia

Curbs on ethnic Georgians’ movement to and from breakaway Abkhazia are fuelling internal disputes and tensions with Tbilisi. South Ossetia’s recently calmed crisis shows the risks of ignoring the problem. Abkhazia’s election – though widely considered illegitimate – is a good moment for a course correction.

Armenia Elections Boost Hopes for Peace with Azerbaijan

With his party’s victory in the snap parliamentary elections and a new calm on the frontlines with Azerbaijan, Armenia’s leader Nikol Pashinyan and his team will have more space to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Also available in Русский