Svante Cornell

Svante E. Cornell (born 1975) is a Swedish scholar specializing on politics and security issues in Eurasia, especially the South Caucasus, Turkey, and Central Asia. He is a director and co-founder of the Stockholm-based Institute for Security and Development Policy, and Research Director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program (CACI), and joined the American Foreign Policy Council as a Senior Fellow for Eurasia in January 2017.


Cornell studied at the Department of the International Relations, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey.[1] He earned a Ph.D. in Peace and Conflict Studies from Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden.[1]


From 2002 to 2003 served as the course Chair of the Caucasus Area Studies at the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State.[1] From 2003 to 2007, Cornell served as Associate Professor in East European Studies at Uppsala University. He also briefly taught at the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences.

Aside from his positions at the ISDP and CACI, he holds the position of Associate Research Professor at Johns Hopkins University-SAIS and Associate Professor (part-time) in Government at Uppsala University.


Cornell's doctoral thesis was entitled Autonomy and Conflict: Ethnoterritoriality and Separatism in the South Caucasus - Cases in Georgia.

He is the author of a number of books, including Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus.

In 2009, together with S. Frederick Starr, he edited The Guns of August 2008: Russia's War in Georgia, which addresses the causes and consequences of the 2008 South Ossetia War.[2]

Cornell's op-eds and commentary have appeared in the Jerusalem Post, Le Monde, The New York Times,[3] The Guardian,[4] the International Herald Tribune, Le Figaro,[5] The Baltimore Sun, Dagens Nyheter, the Moscow Times, Turkish Daily News, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Times. He also published a paper for NRB Analysis.[6]

In his book Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus, Cornell writes:

(...) "the crucial issue of whether the massacres of Armenians were a result of a premeditated policy of genocide has been widely debated by scholars, and still carries considerable political weight today (...) The episode is one of the most tragic of the twentieth century for all victims, irrespective of their origin. The effects of these events were nevertheless incomparably more severe for the Armenian nation. (...) it is no exaggeration to state that the "genocide", as it is always referred to in Armenia, is one of the most important factors determining Armenian society today."[7]

At the height of 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War he criticized Armenian leadership and OSCE Minsk Group, claiming that "Armenia has dramatically destabilized the situation, making it uncontrollable" and suggested that Azerbaijan compelled to look for "other ways to restore its territorial integrity".[8]


Due to an article he wrote on the 2008 South Ossetia War, Cornell was criticized by Mark Ames in The Nation.[9][10] Ames rejected Cornell's New York Times op-ed that placed the blame for the conflict squarely on Russia's shoulders. Similar criticisms were voiced in connection with a book on the war co-edited by Cornell.[11] In 2006, journalist Ken Silverstein criticized Cornell for apparent conflicts of interest related to a consulting company he headed.[12]

American journalist Joshua Kucera, in his article about Cornell's 2010 book Azerbaijan Since Independence, thinks that "Cornell is generally pretty pro-Azerbaijan, and his framing of the situation as something inevitable seems to absolve Azerbaijan of any responsibility for its actions, which I think one could quibble with. But he knows Azerbaijan well, and this is an analysis worth considering."[13] In 2016, Cornell told a conference that "I notice that the Washington Post has published nine editorials on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan in the past two years. I haven’t seen that about Saudi Arabia, about Vietnam, about Turkmenistan, about many other countries Azerbaijan looks pretty good in comparison to... The more we focus only on human rights, the less we will achieve."[14]

Svante Cornell's Institute for Security & Development Policy has been financed by the main lobbyist organization of official Baku - the European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS). [15] TEAS has long been in the center of attention of human rights watchdogs that closely observe the efforts of official Azerbaijan to infiltrate into the ranks of European politicians and representatives of academia and promote the stance of Aliyev regime. [16]

Honors and awards

Cornell has received an honorary doctorate from the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan.


  • Cornell, Svante E. Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict, 2001. ISBN 0-7007-1162-7
  • Cornell, Svante E. The Wider Black Sea Region: An Emerging Hub in European Security, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, 2006. ISBN 91-85473-27-8
  • Cornell, Svante E. Georgia after the Rose Revolution: Geopolitical Predicament and Implications for U.S. Policy, Army War College monograph, 2007.
  • Cornell, Svante E.; Starr, S. Frederick., eds. The Guns of August 2008: Russia's War in Georgia, 2009. ISBN 978-0-7656-2507-6
  • Cornell, Svante E. Azerbaijan Since Independence, 2010. ISBN 978-0-7656-3002-5


  1. Dr. Svante E. Cornell profile at Strategic Studies Institute, United States Army War College
  2. "Book review: The Guns of August 2008" "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2015-07-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. Cornell, Svante E. (2008-08-12). "Russia Blames the Victim". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
  4. Cornell, Svante (2008-08-08). "The war that Russia wants". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
  5. "Géorgie : qu'attend l'UE pour agir face à Moscou ?". Retrieved 2010-11-09.
  6. "Strategic Security Dilemmas in the Caucasus and Central Asia" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-11-09.
  7. Cornell, Svante (2001). Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus. Routledge. pp. 1–480. ISBN 978-1135796686.
  8. "Сванте Корнелл: Армения резко дестабилизировала ситуацию, сделав ее неконтролируемой". Retrieved 2020-10-07.
  9. Ames, Mark (2008-10-22). "The Cold War That Wasn't". The Nation. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
  10. "Arı Foundation invites pro-Ergenekon speaker to Congress event". Archived from the original on 2009-11-21. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
  11. Bruckner, Till. "Book Review: The Guns of August 2008 Caucasian Review of International Affairs, winter 2010". Archived from the original on 2015-09-23.
  12. Silverstein, Ken. "Academics for Hire", Harper's Magazine (May 2006)
  13. Kucera, Joshua. "Is War Over Karabakh Inevitable?",, 14 January 2011.
  14. Tariverdiyeva, Elmira. "Azerbaijan fundamentally modern, secular country oriented towards West",, 11 February 2016,
  15. "Spin doctors to the autocrats: how European PR firms whitewash repressive regimes" (PDF). External link in |website= (help)
  16. Freedom Files Analytical Centre (March 2017). "EUROPEAN VALUES BOUGHT AND SOLD" (PDF). External link in |website= (help)