The political crisis in Belarus and fears of possible Russian military intervention are putting the spotlight back on the Kremlin’s fraught relationships with its neighbors. Yet, as Russia tries to reassert its former dominance, it also faces geopolitical headwinds and must reckon with the considerable societal, economic, and generational changes that have taken place across Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus. Complicating matters further is the growing role of outside actors—notably Europe, the United States, and China—who have built an array of ties to the former Soviet states.

This event marks the launch of the Aso O. Tavitian Initiative, made possible through a generous gift from the prominent late philanthropist and longstanding trustee of the Carnegie Endowment. This is a long-term project with a focus on the challenges facing Russia’s neighbors, starting with the South Caucasus. Through grounded analysis, policy initiatives, and public outreach, the Aso O. Tavitian Initiative will help decisionmakers within and outside the broader region come to grips with the drivers that are reshaping societies, politics, and foreign policies.