By Tomas Baranec
September 28, 2020, the CACI Analyst
On August 1, 2020, Sukhumi reopened its border with Russia. The border had been closed since early April to halt the spread of the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The decision was driven by Abkhazia’s economic concerns, given the region’s heavy dependence on the flow of Russian tourists. However, the development of the epidemiological situation in Abkhazia in the first three weeks after the border reopened indicated that the combination of a massive influx of tourists from the world’s third most infected country and a lack of medical infrastructure in the region could have a negative impact overriding any economic gains from tourism.
By Natalia Konarzewska
September 25, 2020, the CACI Analyst
On July 12, clashes broke out between the armed forces of Armenia and Azerbaijan along the northern section of their internationally recognized border. The skirmishes receded after July 16 but armed incidents at the border still occurred throughout July and August. The July confrontation, resulting in over a dozen military and civilian deaths and the destruction of infrastructure on both sides of the border, is regarded as the most serious since the Four Day War between Armenia and Azerbaijan in April 2016. The conflict also sparked unprecedented interethnic clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani diasporas across the world.
By Richard Weitz
September 3, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The revelations that Russian intelligence may have hired criminals to attack NATO forces in Afghanistan underscores the complex nature of Moscow’s Afghan policies. Though what happened or why remains disputed, the reports highlight the Russian government’s weak tools for shaping the future of Afghanistan despite the country’s pivotal place in Russia’s Eurasian agenda.
By Avinoam Idan
August 31, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The violent gunfire that erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan in July appears to have no connection with the ongoing conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. This event took place far from Nagorno-Karabakh, in the Tovuz region. The strategic importance of the Tovuz region is its location on the energy export pipelines route from the Caspian Sea to Turkey and Western markets. It would seem that the players involved here are none other than Russia and Turkey, in active conflict vis-a-vis the war in Libya. The gunfire can be interpreted as a Russian message to Turkey, regarding its energy supply security from the Caspian Sea. If so, this is not the first time Russia has used Armenia to further its interests in the region.
By Stephen Blank
July 8, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The revelations that Moscow paid Taliban warriors bounties to kill U.S., British, and other allied soldiers in Afghanistan is already generating a scandal in the United States. Yet for those who closely monitor Russian foreign policy in Central Asia and Afghanistan, this represents a particularly grisly escalation of policy but not a change in strategy. Moscow has long been determined to enhance its position with the Taliban and accelerate the ejection of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, which it regards as a threat to its position in Central Asia and to Russia. In Moscow’s imagination, the presence of several U.S. and/or NATO airbases in Afghanistan could strike Russian targets in Central Asia. Moreover, Russia has consistently expressed a visceral reaction to the presence of foreign military forces, especially Western ones, in and around Central Asia.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.