This paper is an attempt to better understand a hard-core security issue through a feminist lens or to grasp a new “Great Game” emerging in central Eurasia by using a feminist understanding of power. The war in Ukraine is considered pivotal to the direction of world history, global order, and the very architecture of the international system. While NATO and Western powers are reluctant to go into a direct military confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, sanctions on Russia have repercussions that extend way beyond Russian borders. Specifically, the former Soviet republics of Central Asia and South Caucasus—which have continued to be almost an integrated part of the extended Russian economy—are experiencing a stronger impact of sanctions than initially planned by the international community. This paper aims to address the unintended consequences of sanctions against Russia on the extended Eurasian space. It claims that sanctions against Russia represent both a trap and an opportunity for the so-called small states in Central Asia and South Caucasus, subjecting them to the patterns of the world hierarchies on one hand and providing the space for maneuver, on the other. A question in focus here is what conditions the so-called small Eurasian actors may need to overcome to remove themselves from Russian dependency. This article relies on the ontology of feminist security studies by focusing on the marginal actors of the Great Game, discovering that resilience is another form of soft power in today’s international relations.

Author Biography

Dr. Viktoria Akchurina is an Assistant Professor and the Coordinator of the MA Program in Global Affairs and Diplomatic Leadership at Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy, UAE. Previously, she worked at the OSCE Academy in Bishkek and Dauphine University in Paris. Her research focuses on state-building in central Eurasia and the Middle East, comparatively. She is an author of Incomplete State-building in Central Asia: State as Social Practice, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2022. She is currently working on comparative research projects on “Water and Conflicts” and “Disputed Borderlands” in global affairs.

Prof. Anna Dolidze is an Associate Professor and a Research Lead in the Science in Policing and Security Program at Rabdan Academy, Abu Dhabi, UAE. She is the author of three books: Towards an Unknown Port (2016), Academic Writing in Law (2017), and First Steps: The Judiciary of Georgia during the First Republic 1918-1921 (2019) along with numerous scholarly articles about transitional justice, human rights, and rule of law. Dr. Anna Dolidze graduated from Tbilisi State University in 2002 with a degree in Law. She later earned an LLM from Leiden University followed by a Doctorate from Cornell Law School.