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.
By Emil Avdaliani
June 18, 2020, the CACI Analyst
Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia is undergoing a deep political crisis coupled with troubles in its relationship with Russia. This potentially opens for a rapprochement with the government in Tbilisi and Abkhaz politicians have already come out with some bold statements. Although Abkhazia’s continual dependence on Russian financial and military support will keep the region under the Kremlin’s control, the emerging trends also suggest that tensions between Russia and Abkhazia will continue and grow.
By Emil A. Souleimanov and Huseyn Aliyev
June 10, 2020, the CACI Analyst
At an April 6 ministerial meeting, Russia’s newly appointed Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin made a remark to the governors of Russia’s provinces, who in the preceding weeks introduced a ban on leaving and entering their respective regions in order to curb covid-19 infections, advising them “not to confuse regional powers with federal authorities.” As Chechnya’s strongman Ramzan Kadyrov had introduced a ban on the republic’s physical contacts with the outside world in the end of March, Kadyrov took this general statement personally. Soon, Kadyrov expressed concern that the prime minister was being “misled.” The conflict marks what some believe is the beginning of a troublesome relationship between Chechnya’s leader and Russia’s newly appointed prime minister.
By Farkhod Tolipov
June 8, 2020, the CACI Analyst
In May 2020, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Maria Zakharova commented on a draft law initiated by Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Justice, stipulating the use of Uzbek language for the entire workflow in governmental bodies. According to the draft law, officials will be fined for failure to comply. Moscow reacted strongly to this political motion in Uzbekistan. Whereas support for national language and culture abroad is a normal feature of foreign policy and commonly regarded as a “soft power” tool; the statement of Russia’s MFA Spokesperson was received as another form of “hard power” in Uzbekistan.
By Azad Garibov
May 12, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The collapse of oil prices and outbreak of a pandemic seems to catch Central Asia in an economic perfect storm. Some regional energy exporters will suffer directly from low oil prices and the pandemic; others will face adverse economic consequences more indirectly, in the form of reduced gas demand in China or decreased remittances sent by migrant workers.
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.