A battle for transportation routes in the Russian neighborhood: Is there a place for small states?


Driven by an increased interest in enhancing connectivity, great powers are in the competition to implement their transportation projects. Meanwhile, small states located in the crossroad of the transportation routes are offered with benefits while facing several challenges. In this regard, the current article studies three major transportation initiatives in the South Caucasus region from both political and economic perspectives. The article will try to analyze how these might challenge the regional hegemony of Russia. Hereinafter, by looking at the case of Azerbaijan, the role of small states throughout this process is identified.

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  1. 1.

    There are various definitions for explaining the concept of a small state presented by many scholars (Maass 2009; Fukuyama 2004; Handel 1981), however, a generalized explanation based on all the previous definitions offered by Thorhallsson and Steinsson (2017) is considered throughout the article. In this regard, based on their explanation, the smallness of the state central to most previous definitions refer to the shortage of resources and capabilities that determine the power and influence of the state which not only concern the territorial size but also economic and military size. Thus, small state can be conceptualized as the entity lacking power that can be used in international affairs (Handel 1981; Olafsson 1998).


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Funding was provided by Global Challenge Research Fund (Grant No. ES/P010849/1).

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Valiyev, A., Bilalova, S. A battle for transportation routes in the Russian neighborhood: Is there a place for small states?. Int Polit 58, 483–499 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41311-020-00241-9

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  • Small states
  • International politics
  • Regional integration
  • South Caucasus