By Stephen Blank
July 1st, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Despite the ongoing terrorist insurgency, Russian officials claim significant progress in pacifying and reintegrating the North Caucasus. For example, in 2015 alone, Ministry of Interior forces in the North Caucasus (VVMVD) allegedly killed over 70 militants. Yet the National Anti-Terrorist Committee expects that the situation in 2016 will show no signs of marked improvement. Moreover, despite many Jihadis’ departure for Syria or Iraq, local insurgent activity has not slackened. In this context, Russia is reaching out to Saudi Arabia, Gulf States and their investment vehicles, as well as Azerbaijan in what may signify more than just a search for foreign investment. Arguably, these moves mark another stage in the recession of Russian power from the North Caucasus.
By Natalia Konarzewska
June 24th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Once again, NATO will likely turn down Georgia’s bid for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) during the Alliance’s fast-approaching Warsaw summit on 8-9 July. Instead, NATO assures that Georgia will receive a firm declaration and a strengthened package of support during the summit, but no details have been yet specified. Apparently, some of NATO’s most powerful members are anxious that offering Tbilisi more will irritate Russia, which is already protesting plans to further strengthen NATO’s eastern flank. While NATO at present does not close the door to the future enlargements, Georgians are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their country’s inability to clear the path to membership – a fact eagerly exploited by outlets for Russian propaganda, which are gaining strength in Georgia.
By Najia Badykova
June 17th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Free of many sanctions, Iran is becoming an active player in the South Caucasus, taking steps towards greater involvement in the region. Russia is not objecting, and even appears to be supporting these initiatives. In March, Armenia’s Energy Minister Levon Yolyan announced that Iran will build a gas distribution network in southern Armenia. Russia’s Gazprom, which currently controls that country’s gas distribution system, has not opposed this plan. Iran is also involved in another initiative with Russia, Armenia and Georgia. The four countries have agreed to build the North-South Energy Corridor, linking them to a unified electric grid. These recent initiatives are just the first to take off. Iran and Russia have been deepening their economic ties with all South Caucasus countries, securing reliable transit corridors while keeping other foreign competitors out of the picture.
By Farkhod Tolipov
June 2nd, 2016, The CACI Analyst
A few weeks before the April 2-5 fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh between Azerbaijan and Armenia, a border crisis occurred between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan on March 18-26. Some observers connected these two events as links in the same chain. Indeed, both cases revolve around so-called frozen conflicts in the post-Soviet space; where one of the conflicting sides is a CSTO member and the other is not; and where speculations proliferate of a hidden Russian hand in both the instigation and mediation of the clashes. The two conflicts can be seen as a by-product of the same process – the continuing divergence of the former single Soviet space.
By Roger N. McDermott
May 31st, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Russia’s Armed Forces are conducting a series of exercises in Central Asia ostensibly designed to reassure regional allies that Moscow will assist in the face of an insurgency or incursion led by the Taliban or the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS). However, these exercises are increasingly demonstrating the Kremlin’s intention to reassert Russia’s security role in Central Asia, while some features of such military exercises are also betraying increasingly sophisticated Russian technology and warfare capabilities, and consequently a widening gap with the country’s allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
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.