After joining the U.S. Department of Defense as a Presidential Management Fellow in 1996 and working four years in the Office of the Secretary of Defense on issues pertaining to the former Soviet States, I was determined to understand why the states were so persistently weak despite substantial foreign assistance. I pursued a Ph.D. at the London School of Economics where I spent considerable time in Russia and the South Caucasus learning Russian, working in think tanks (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Moscow and Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies, Tbilisi), and conducting extensive field research. This included multiple visits to Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Adjara and Javakheti in Georgia, and Armenia. Through empirical case study research on politico-economic networks operating in Georgia's energy sector (oil, gas, electricity), I was able to better comprehend the extent to which multiple facets of society engage in non-transparent exchanges for personal gain, creating an alternative system that keeps the state weak. This material has been published in several journal articles and a forthcoming book, Independent Georgia: Persistent Weakness of a Post-Soviet State.I spent the next two years living in Central Asia and Europe expanding my doctoral research. First, I compared informal politico-economic networks operating in Georgia's electricity sector with those in Kyrgyzstan during a post-doctoral fellowship at American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan (Visiting Research Fellows Papers). This allowed for a greater understanding of how networks in Georgia had gone from weakening the power sector to being neutralized after the 2004 ‘Rose Revolution', whereas they were having a debilitating effect in Kyrgyzstan. In 2007, I was awarded a post-doctoral research fellowship by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs to work on Central Asian energy supply and the relationship to European energy security. Two years in Europe allowed me to examine the European bodies responsible for energy relations, Russian companies operating in Europe, and political dynamics in consuming states. The result of my research has been published in several institutional reports (CSS Analysis in Security Policy; Baker Institute for Public Policy Research Papers).


B.A. (1993) University of Virginia; M.A. (1995) University of London; Ph.D. (2007) London School of Economics and Political Science


Trans-Atlantic Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, 2007-2009; Graduate Teaching Assistant, King's College London, Department of War Studies, 2004-2005; Political-Military Desk Officer, US Department of Defense, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Office of Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, 1998-2002


Russia-Europe Energy Relations; Former Soviet Space: energy security (South Caucasus and Central Asia), economic development and informal networks,frozen conflicts

Project Summary

This project examines the international politics of Russian energy. Russia has emerged as an energy empire since 2003, monopolizing Eurasian supply and European demand through the creation of intermediary companies. A series of case studies from Germany to Kazakhstan examine the formal and informal roles played by intermediary companies. It asks the critical question how these companies affect politics and business in consumer states. This study offers a comparative scholarly work of Russian energy business in Europe and Eurasia and engages debates regarding the security of supply from the Caspian Sea basin.

Major Publications

  • "State Weakness in Perspective: Strong Politico- Economic Networks in Georgia's Energy Sector," Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 61, No. 5, July 2009, pp. 759-778.
  • "Central Asian Energy Relations: Evaluating the Impact of Informal Dynamics on Formal Arrangements," James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy Papers. Texas: Rice University, 2009