To be or not to be a state? The alignment behaviours of Abkhazia and South Ossetia with Russia


  • Anton Aslund



This article presents an adaptation of Kuik's hedging theory to analyse the secessionist movements in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both seeking independence from Georgia with Russian support. By examining their distinctive strategies, this study addresses the extent to which these regions seek to maintain their independence from Russia, as their patron state. The article argues for the need to modify hedging theory to accommodate the unique context of former Soviet actors and de facto states. The adaptation develops the concept of a "political hedge," with a focus on elite-driven nation-building as a mechanism to influence the likelihood of Russian integration. Abkhazia is identified as an illustrative case of hedging behaviour, whereas South Ossetia displays characteristics resembling but distinct from bandwagoning. This analysis contributes to refining the applicability of hedging theory within novel political environments and underscores the significance of elite-led nation-building in shaping state and national legitimacy in secessionist regions.