Vladimir Socor

Vladimir Socor is a Senior Fellow of the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation and its flagship publication, Eurasia Daily Monitor (1995 to date), where he writes analytical articles on a daily basis. An internationally recognized expert on the former Soviet-ruled countries in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus, and Central Asia, he covers Russian and Western policies, focusing on energy, regional security issues, Russian foreign affairs, secessionist conflicts, and NATO policies and programs. Mr. Socor is a frequent speaker at U.S. and European policy conferences and think-tank institutions; as well as a regular guest lecturer at the NATO Defense College and at Harvard University’s National Security Program’s Black Sea Program. He is also a frequent contributor to edited volumes. Mr. Socor was previously an analyst with the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Research Institute (1983-1994). He is a Romanian-born citizen of the United States based in Munich, Germany.

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    Articles by Vladimir Socor

    Russia Playing Cat-and-Mouse With OSCE (Part Two)

    Russia forced what it calls “the collective West” into significant concessions for this year’s Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) annual meeting of foreign ministers. Using its statutory

    Peace Unattainable Without Victory in Ukraine

    The West’s inadequate arming of Ukraine predetermined costly failures for Kyiv’s counteroffensive. The effort to dislodge Russian forces from their entrenched positions in southeastern Ukraine has become a difficult endeavor

    Ukraine Will Not Hold Elections During Wartime

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has ended a debate that he himself had helped spark. Zelenskyy told the nation on November 6 that Ukraine cannot hold elections while fighting a war

    The OSCE in Agony (Part Four)

    Click here to read Part One, Part Two and Part Three. Moldova is the last remaining target of Russia’s “special status” playbook, in this case in Transnistria. This is also the

    The OSCE in Agony (Part Three)

    Click here to read Part One and Part Two. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has lost relevance and even access to the conflict-resolution process between Armenia

    The OSCE in Agony (Part Two)

    Read Part One here. This year’s Polish chairmanship barred Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov from entering Poland for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) year-end ministerial meeting.

    The OSCE in Agony (Part One)

    Russia’s devastating invasion of Ukraine this year is not, for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a dramatic watershed or existential crossroads as it has been made

    Ukraine Poised to Liberate Western Kherson

    On November 9, in a televised conference, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin, announced another major Russian setback (TASS, November

    Pro-Russia Parties Resurgent in Moldova (Part Two)

    *To read Part One, please click here. Moldova’s Russophile parties aim to force snap parliamentary and presidential elections this year, capitalizing on an unprecedented economic crisis to topple the pro-Western

    Russia’s Invasion Manifesto to Ukraine

    Traditionally, imperial powers sending their armies into foreign countries for purposes of conquest issued explanatory manifestoes to the invaded peoples and to their own. The Kremlin issued the equivalent of

    Kremlin Announces War Aims Against Ukraine

    At 6 AM Moscow time, on February 24, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announced in a televised address the start of a “special military operation” by Russian forces against Ukraine. At

    Ukraine in Play After Biden-Putin Discussion

    Presidents Joseph Biden of the United States and Vladimir Putin of Russia have agreed, in their December 7 video-dialogue (see EDM, December 8), to create working groups that would address

    Ukraine Looms Large in Biden-Putin Dialogue

    Presidents Joseph Biden of the United States and Vladimir Putin of Russia held a one-on-one video-conference, on December 7—their fifth direct dialogue (three by telephone, one in person, one by

    Zelenskyy Seeks a Summit With Putin Again

    Following United States President Joseph Biden’s example, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has also blinked to the Kremlin. The US president solicited a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on April

    Moscow Declares Pause in Normandy Negotiations on Ukraine

    Russia’s presidential envoy for conflict-management in Ukraine, Dmitry Kozak, has unilaterally announced a pause in the Normandy negotiation process, pending “clarifications to Ukraine’s positions.” Kozak’s announcements concluded and followed the

    Kozak-Yermak Plan on Donbas: The Fine Print

    The meeting of the Minsk-based Contact Group, held by videoconference on March 24–26, had been expected to officially create a new negotiating forum, named the Consultative Council—in fact, an accretion

    Ukraine Goes to Risk-Fraught Normandy Summit (Part One)

    High-level political discussions about “the Ukraine crisis” (a diplomatic euphemism for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine) are scheduled to resume on December 9, in Paris, in the “Normandy” format—Russia, France, Germany,

    NATO Shows an Irresolute Flag in Ukraine (Part Two)

    *To read Part One, please click here. On October 30–31, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) main political decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council (at the ambassadorial level), visited Ukraine

    NATO Shows an Irresolute Flag in Ukraine (Part One)

    Ambassadors from the North Atlantic Council— the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) principal political decision-making body—visited Ukraine, on October 30–31, for a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission. Ukrainian President Volodymyr

    Transnistria: ‘Freezing’ as the Lesser Evil (Part One)

    Ambassadors from Russia, Ukraine, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the United States, and the European Union, collectively the mediators and observers to the Transnistria conflict-settlement negotiations,

    Zelensky-Putin Direct Dialogue? A Whiff in the Air

    President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inaugural address to the country, delivered on May 20 in the Ukrainian parliament, includes an unprecedented offer to start a direct dialogue with the Kremlin (see EDM,

    Russia Punishing Ukraine After the Presidential Election

    The Kremlin is disappointed and angry with the Ukrainian presidential election’s landslide winner, Volodymyr Zelensky. The president-elect may have over-fulfilled Moscow’s forecasts by defeating the incumbent, President Petro Poroshenko, by

    Elections Staged in Ukraine’s East Under Russian Control

    Kremlin-orchestrated, internationally unrecognized “elections” were held on November 11 in the Donetsk and Luhansk “People’s Republics” (DPR, LPR), Russian-controlled territories in Ukraine’s east. The final returns, made public on November

    Georgia Plans Its ‘To Do’ Agenda for NATO

    United States President Donald Trump’s behavior at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) recent summit in Brussels (July 11–12) and in its aftermath has cast a shadow on this landmark

    NATO Summit Highlights Partnership With the EU

    United States President Donald Trump’s behavior at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) recent summit in Brussels (July 11–12) and in its aftermath has cast a shadow on this landmark

    NATO-Georgia: Varied Menu, Uncertain Financing

    It was a summit of modest expectations and modest results for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Warsaw on July 8–9. These results are of an interim nature: building-blocks

    John Kerry’s Unwelcome Message in Ukraine

    US Secretary of State John Kerry and Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland held talks with President Petro Poroshenko and other Ukrainian officials, in Kyiv on July 7. At the joint news

    Nord Stream Two in Ukrainian Perspective

    At Russia’s initiative, the Nord Stream Two natural gas pipeline project has advanced from agreements of intent to a binding agreement; and Gazprom has formed the project consortium with several

    Ukraine Rapidly Dismantling Gazprom’s Supply Monopoly

    Quantitative indicators show a dramatic reorientation of Ukraine’s natural gas supply strategy. Dependence on Gazprom has become a thing of the past. Kyiv demonstrates political resolve to pursue supply diversification

    Russia Subverting Armistice in Ukraine

    Russia is using the ceasefire as an opportunity to cement and expand its military presence, directly as well as through the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” (DPR, LPR). Following the

    Putin Suggests Own Terms for a Dialogue With Ukraine

    Addressing an international investment forum in Moscow yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin adopted an unusually restrained tone toward Ukraine. In effect, Putin seems to suggest a framework for political dialogue

    Putin’s Ceasefire Plan Sets Traps for Ukraine

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has Ukraine cornered on the battlefield and in diplomatic negotiations at this moment (see accompanying article). On September 3, Putin proposed a seven-point ceasefire plan to

    Russia’s Donetsk Proxies Anticipate Ukrainian Siege

    The newly-installed “prime minister of the Donetsk people’s republic (DPR),” Aleksandr Zakharchenko, was apparently asked to convey a reassuring message to Russia’s public in anticipation of a Ukrainian siege of

    Donetsk ‘Republic’ Leaders’ Morale Plummeting

    Intercepts of Moscow-Donetsk telephone conversations, made public by Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU), reveal pessimism and demoralization on the part of at least some of the secessionist “republic’s” leadership. On July

    Russia Pressures Ukraine to Prolong the Ceasefire

    Ukraine’s unilateral ceasefire, announced by President Petro Poroshenko on June 20, expires today (June 27). Russia and its proxy forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions (Donbas) have actively undermined

    Russia Suspends Natural Gas Supplies to Ukraine

    On June 16, Russia suspended natural gas supplies to Ukraine over non-payment of debts for supplies already delivered. Russia would resume the supplies on condition that Ukraine pays in advance

    Dead in Geneva: The Compromise With Russia on Ukraine

    Russia is inadvertently helping Ukraine, the United States and the European Union to escape the trap of the April 17 Geneva Joint Diplomatic Statement “On the Situation in Ukraine” (https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/04/224957.htm).

    Russia Completes the Annexation of Crimea

    Addressing Russia’s bicameral parliament on March 18, President Vladimir Putin announced Crimea’s incorporation into the Russian Federation. The founding documents on Crimea’s “admission” into Russia were signed on the same

    NATO and Ukraine’s Security Vacuum

    Russia has seized Crimea from Ukraine by military force, wholly unprovoked, and without having to fire a shot (see EDM, February 28, March 3–7, 10). Furthermore, Russia has “legislated” its

    Russian Putsch in Crimea Under Pseudo-Legal Cover

    In the pre-dawn hours on February 27 in Simferopol, some 50 heavily armed Russian men in camouflage uniforms without identification marks seized the parliament and government buildings of the Crimean

    Russian Energy Projects and Hungarian Politics

    Hungary’s Fidesz-led government under Viktor Orban, conservative and Europe-oriented in a traditionalist sense, and strongly anti-communist ever since Fidesz’s formative years, has turned toward Russia for solutions to some of

    Gazprom Advances in Germany

    Russian Gazprom is taking over most of the core business of its German partner, Wintershall, in the natural gas trade and storage business. The two companies had conducted that business

    Russia Conducts Trade Warfare on Multiple Fronts

    Russia’s trade restrictions against Lithuania (ban on Lithuanian dairy products since October 7, threats to ban meat and fish products, harassment of Lithuanian road transport at the Russian border—see EDM,

    Azerbaijan Earns Deferential Treatment from Moscow

    Among the six countries in the European Union’s Eastern Partnership program, Azerbaijan under its President Ilham Aliyev seems uniquely impervious to Russian forms of leverage and, consequently, unique in receiving

    Ukraine Diversifies Gas Suppliers, Slashes Imports from Gazprom

    Ukraine has recently initiated procurement of natural gas from European suppliers. These volumes are small but growing, correspondingly eroding Gazprom’s market share in Ukraine.The German Rheinisch-Westfaelisches Elektrizitaetswerk (RWE) is providing

    Old and New Options Considered in the Post-Nabucco Era

    Planning the Southern Gas Corridor to Europe, the European Commission in Brussels had defined the Nabucco pipeline project as the corridor’s mainstay. With Nabucco-West’s official demise (see accompanying article and

    The Curtain Falls on Nabucco’s Last Act

    Nabucco-West, the pipeline project that was to have carried Azerbaijani gas from Turkey to the Central European Gas Hub near Vienna, is exiting from the stage. There will be no

    Azerbaijan Wins Tender for Gas Pipelines in Greece

    On June 21, Greece’s State Assets Development Fund announced that Azerbaijan’s State Oil Company (SOCAR) has won the tender to acquire control of Greek DESFA’s (Public Gas Transmission System Operator)

    Igor Sechin Door-Crashing in Croatia

    Croatia is set to join the European Union as a full member on July 1. This makes Croatia a more attractive object of Russian energy interests. The head of Zarubezhneft

    EDM analysts cited in Eurasia Review article

    Jamestown analysts Roger McDermott, Vladimir Socor, Pavel Felgenhauer, Georgiy Voloshin, Richard Weitz, and Dumitru Minzarari were cited in an article by Ariel Cohen in Eurasia Review.

    Georgia’s Reset and Russia’s Response (Part Three)

    Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili supervises Georgia’s policy toward Russia through his special envoy, veteran diplomat Zurab Abashidze. This appointment has led to the establishment of a bilateral negotiating channel between

    Vladimir Socor quoted by Zawya

    Jamestown analyst Vladimir Socor was quoted by Zawya in an article titled Nabucco, TAP battle it out for Azeri gas deal.

    Ukraine Importing Gas from Germany via Hungary and Poland

    Denting Russian Gazprom’s monopoly, Ukraine is procuring small but growing volumes of natural gas from Europe. The German Rheinisch-Westfaelisches Elektrizitaetswerk (RWE) is providing the volumes through its subsidiary, RWE Supply

    Angela Merkel Opens a European Perspective for Moldova

    Visiting Moldova on August 22 (see accompanying article), German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared twice unambiguously that Moldova does have a “European perspective”—albeit in a “step-by-step process”; and “we shall accompany

    Croatia Can Call Gazprom’s Bluff on South Stream

    Moscow is “pressuring” Croatia to join Gazprom’s South Stream project urgently, before Croatia’s accession to the European Union takes legal effect in 2013. An internal analysis, prepared by Croatian government

    Gazprom’s Shtokman Project: Relic of a Past Era

    On August 7, Norway’s Statoil announced its exit from the super-giant Shtokman gas field development in the Russian Arctic. The Norwegian company, majority state-owned, is writing off its investment into

    Hungarian MOL Goes Upstream in Kazakhstani Projects

    On July 19, Hungarian-based MOL entered into a partnership with Kazmunaigaz E&P (Exploration & Production, the upstream subsidiary of the national company Kazmunaigaz) to develop the North Karpovsky oil and

    NATO and Georgia: Beyond the Open Door

    NATO’s summit on May 20 in Chicago has brought Georgia slightly closer to the “open door” of membership in the Alliance. The Chicago summit’s declaration reaffirms earlier decisions, committing NATO

    Hungary Casts Serious Doubt on the Nabucco Project

    Hungary has raised some serious questions about the viability of the Nabucco gas pipeline project and the performance of the project company’s management. The Hungarian critique has strongly reverberated in

    Chevron Postpones Shale Gas Exploration in Romania

    After Bulgaria (see EDM, January 24), Romania might unnecessarily miss its own chance to explore a promising shale gas potential in partnership with the Chevron Corporation. Unlike the Bulgarian situation,

    Russian Oil Companies Buying West European Refineries

    Russian oil companies Gunvor, Rosneft, and Lukoil are spearheading what looks like an acquisition spree of refining capacities in Western Europe. Some West-European authorities accept without qualms and even welcome

    Lithuania Contracts for LNG Terminal

    In 2011, Lithuania became the first European Union member country to enact EU energy market reform on national territory (see EDM, July 7, 2011). Lithuania opted for the most far-reaching

    Confidence in the Nabucco Project Fading

    Confidence in the viability of the Nabucco project – at least in its version envisaged from 2004 to 2011 – seems to be fading all around. On January 25, the

    Russian Oil Business Targeting EU’s Entrant Croatia

    Croatia has become the newest member of the European Union, with a national referendum on January 22 capping the accession process. The government-controlled JANAF (Jadranski Naftovod – Adriatic Oil Transportation)

    US, NATO Acknowledge Russian Kill of CFE Treaty

    In December 2007, Moscow killed the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) officially, declaring a unilateral “moratorium” (suspension) of indefinite duration on Russia’s compliance with the CFE treaty and

    Inspections At Gazprom In the EU: Why Now?

    The European Commission has launched a round of inspections at Gazprom’s affiliate companies in EU member countries. This is the opening stage in an anti-trust investigation of the Russian monopoly’s

    Turkey Seeks Price Cut On Russian Gas

    Turkey has joined the growing ranks of claimants to revision of their contracts with Gazprom. On September 29, Turkish Energy Minister, Taner Yildiz, warned that Turkey would end a 25-year-old

    Nabucco’s Rivals Deploy Their Counter-Arguments

    Baku expects three gas transportation consortiums to submit competing bids by October for the gas production of Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field, Phase Two. The rival projects are Nabucco (Turkey-Bulgaria-Romania-Hungary-Austria, potentially

    Russia Proposes to Codify Intervention Right Via CSTO

    CSTO’s Secretary-General, Nikolai Bordyuzha, has expatiated on proposals to use the Collective Security Treaty Organization as a tool of Russian intervention within member countries. His latest statements focus on managing

    Major Gas Discovery Announced In Azerbaijan

    The French company, Total, and Azerbaijan’s State Oil Company (SOCAR) have announced a major gas discovery at the offshore Absheron field. According to Total, the first results from the exploration

    Nabucco Project Can Advance Faster Than Rivals

    Nabucco, the strategic project for transportation of Caspian gas to Europe, seems threatened by the non-strategic pipeline projects, ITGI (Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy) and TAP (Trans-Adriatic Pipeline). These are less advanced, compared

    Hungarian MOL Harassed In EU Entrant Croatia

    Within days after the European Commission had cleared Croatia to join the EU (Financial Times, June 22), political harassment of Hungarian MOL has intensified in Croatia. Russian interests are conveniently

    France, Russia Sign Contract On Mistral Warships

    As a highlight of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (see EDM, June 20), Russian President Dmitry Medvedev witnessed the signing of the contract for two French Mistral-class warships to

    German Initiatives Favor Russia On Transnistria Talks

    (Part Two) In the context of Russo-German special relations, the German government proposes to restart international negotiations on the Transnistria conflict from a modified basis, one largely favorable to Russian

    Russia to the West’s Rescue in Libya?

    As predicted from the outset of the Libya crisis (EDM, April 21, 26), Russia now officially proposes to “help” extricate the Western belligerents from their difficulties in Libya. Moreover, Moscow’s

    Surgut’s Exit From Hungary Is a Success for Europe

    Hungary’s government has successfully completed negotiations with the Russian government and Surgutneftegaz about the latter’s exit from Hungary. The government is purchasing Surgut’s 21.2 percent stake in the oil and

    Moscow Encourages Turmoil in Georgia

    Moscow has stimulated the radical opposition’s actions in Tbilisi (see EDM, May 24), and stands ready to exploit the unrest. Russian state television channels provide sympathetic, over-dramatized coverage of the

    NATO in Libya: An Improvised Intervention

    The United States kick-started the Libya operation on March 19, in charge of Operation Odyssey Dawn, and launching air and missile strikes until April 3. The French, British, and several

    Russia Seeks China’s Support on Libya Crisis

    On May 6 in Moscow, President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov each received Lavrov’s Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi. According to Lavrov at the concluding news conference, Russia

    NATO Clarifies Goals in Libya

    NATO allies seek additional military, political, and financial means to overcome the unanticipated stalemate in Libya. Alliance leaders are also addressing incipient symptoms of fatigue with the seemingly protracted operation,

    Russia Unveils Political Objectives In Libya

    Russia’s abstention on the UN Security Council Resolution 1973 helped open the door to Western military action on a limited scale in Libya. The Obama administration led the military action

    Moscow Positioning To Exploit Libya Stalemate

    The United States and Western Europe’s residual military powers have undertaken in Libya another war of choice. Russia ushered them into it by not vetoing the UN Security Council’s resolution

    Moscow Backs Surgut’s Push in Hungary

    Co-chairing a session of the Russian-Hungarian Intergovernmental Economic Cooperation Commission in Moscow, Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov asked Hungary to eliminate “subjective” obstacles to Russian investments there (MTI, March 21).

    Putin Looks For LNG Exit From South Stream

    On March 9, the Russian government’s official websites published a transcript of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s and Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko’s “working meeting,” held that day in Putin’s office. Putin

    Southern Gas Corridor Risks Loss Of Strategic Focus

    “Achieving the objectives of the Southern Corridor,” in the European Commission’s phrase (EurActiv, February 19), implies commitment to its strategic purpose. This is to supply countries along the Nabucco project’s

    Cost And Supply Issues Delay The Nabucco Project

    The Nabucco pipeline consortium has discreetly postponed its final investment decision by another year, this time until early 2012, with construction to start in 2012 “at the earliest” (Dow Jones,

    Russia Mothballs Trans-Balkan Oil Pipeline Project

    On February 17, the stakeholders and supervisory board of the Russian-led Burgas-Alexandropolis oil pipeline project shelved the project in all but name. The host countries, Bulgaria and Greece, had (each

    South Stream CEO Makes The Case For The Project

    Launched in 2007, Gazprom’s South Stream project ran out of potential gas resources by 2009 (thanks primarily to Turkmenistan’s reorientation), and out of potential financing at the same time (due

    Made In Germany For Russia’s Army

    Germany is joining a scramble among West-European producers of military equipment for Russian orders. NATO and the United States are silent bystanders to this growing trend, which challenges the Alliance’s

    Georgia Provides More Security Than it Consumes

    Addressing the annual international security forum in Munich –the highest-level NATO event between the Alliance’s summits–Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili, had the temerity to talk strategy. His address stood out in

    Lithuania Assumes the Chairmanship of the OSCE

    Chairing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010, Kazakhstan showed that it is possible to bring a successful chairmanship to a failing organization. Prerequisites to a