Abstract: De facto states are conventionally perceived as illegal entities, usually ignored by the rest of the world and therefore also isolated and severely sanctioned in most cases. We investigate US foreign-policy engagement with Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Northern Cyprus, Somaliland, and Transnistria and explore when, why, and how interactions between the United States and “places that do not exist” has taken place. This is done by extensively using WikiLeaks diplomatic cables from 2003– to 2010 as a primary information source. We assume that by engaging and not recognizing, the US has sought to increase its leverage and footprint in conflicts that somehow affect its national interests. This engagement approach is presumably most successful when targeted adversaries turn out to be agents of peace and stability, or when strategic calculus outweighs the rationale for the conventional treatment of sovereign anomalies.
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