The Crimean Nexus: Constantine Pleshakov

The Crimean Nexus: Putin’s war and the clash of civilizations by Constantine Pleshakov was published in 2017 by Yale publishing. Pleshakov is a former policy analyst who now teaches at the Five-College Consortium in Massachusetts. He was born in Yalta and is now a permanent resident of the United States.

Pleshakov provides a clear background to the current events that have embroiled Crimea in modern conflict and in the imagination of non-Crimeans for centuries. In the opening chapter he outlines a list of reasons why Crimea is so appealing:

  • climatically, it’s subtropical
  • geopolitically, it’s the gateway to Eurasia but also whoever rules Crimea commands the Black Sea – the great ‘energy connector’
  • culturally, it sits in the middle between ‘East’ and ‘West’, between Christianity and Islam.
  • It is the lynch pin of Eurasian security; the line between NATO and the rest.

Despite his background of being born in Crimea and recognising himself as Russian, Pleshakov gives a very neutral and academic perspective on this turbulent region. He looks from a variety of angles to show what issues the small region faces when it’s at the heart of an ideological and geopolitical tug of war. He explains exactly why Putin would be more interested in Trump as president over Clinton and explores the more ‘hawkish’ perspective regarding Russia that Clinton used when she was Secretary of State.

By contextualising the Crimean issues in cultural and historical ways this book is very interesting to a range of people interested in modern geopolitical conflicts. It was an accessible and enlightening read about a fascinating and turbulent region.

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