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Nicholas Ross Smith

Assistant Professor of International Studies, University of Nottingham

Nicholas Ross Smith is an Assistant Professor of International Studies at the University of Nottingham’s Ningbo campus in China. His main research areas include geopolitics in Eastern Europe (and more broadly, regional settings), EU foreign policy, Russian foreign policy, democratisation, and International Relations theory. He has published a number of journal articles, essays and commentaries on these topics (and others) and also has published a book which looks at EU-Russian relations and the Ukraine crisis (with Edward Elgar).

Nicholas has four main areas of specialisation: foreign policy analysis, especially EU foreign policy and Russian foreign policy; geopolitics & geoeconomics, especially Eastern Europe but also Asia-Pacific; international relations theory, especially neoclassical realism but also constructivism; democracy & democratisation, especially Athenian democracy & post-Soviet democratisation.

Nicholas’ has three main current research interests at the moment. One research project concerns the perils of hedging for smaller states in geopolitically-charged regional security complexes. Of particular interest is Ukraine’s failed hedge of the EU and Russia from 2010 to 2013 but also historical examples, such as Yakub Beg’s foreign policy-making during the Dungan Rebellion.

Another research project examines the limitations of the external promotion of democracy and the crucial role elite factions within a democratizing state play in determining whether democratic reform is successfully undertaken or not. Research on the cases of Hungary and Ukraine has been undertaken.

The last research project considers how cryptocurrencies might affect international politics through challenging the United States’ financial hegemony. The research looks at both independent cryptocurrencies and state-backed ones and postulates how this rapidly evolving technology might be a game-changer.


  • 2018–present
    Assistant Professor, University of Nottingham Ningbo China


  • 2016 
    University of Auckland, PhD (Politics & International Relations)


  • 2016
    The EU under a realist scope: Employing a neoclassical realist approach for the analysis of the EU’s foreign trade policy towards Ukraine up until the onset of the crisis, International Relations,
  • 2016
    EU-Russian Relations and the Ukraine Crisis, Edward Elgar
  • 2015
    The EU and Russia’s conflicting regime preferences in Ukraine: Assessing regime promotion strategies in the scope of the Ukraine crisis, European Security
  • 2014
    The Underpinning Realpolitik of the EU’s Policies towards Ukraine: An Analysis of Interests and Norms in the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, European Foreign Affairs Review