By Johan Engvall
March 14, 2022
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the West’s economic response to it has put Central Asia in a precarious position. As part of what Moscow perceives as its sphere of interest, the repercussions of Putin’s war are bound to affect the Central Asian countries particularly hard. While anything but static, the nature of the Russia-Central Asia relationship still enables Moscow to retain a strong influence in the region. Russia remains the dominant security actor in Central Asia, even more so following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Their economies remain closely interlinked with Russia, and at the political level, a distinct type of post-Soviet authoritarian leadership model with roots in the Soviet system facilitates political dialogue. Western disengagement from the region has left them more vulnerable, but the unpredictable consequences of Russia’s military adventurism might force them to realign their external relations.
By Mushtaq A. Kaw
March 9, 2022
The recent U.S. ban on Xinjiang imports in reaction to the "widespread, state sponsored forced labor" and "mass detention" of the ethnic Muslim minorities in China’s far-western and strategically important Xinjiang province denotes a marked U.S. contribution to the international protest against Chinese human rights abuses in Xinjiang. However, international opposition is unlikely to make any dent on China, which has an ambitious colonial agenda to accomplish in the disputed region.
By Tomáš Baranec, Giorgi Bilanishvili, Davit Katsarava, Lana Ghvinjilia
March 1, 2022, the CACI Analyst
On November 19, 2021, the South Ossetian de-facto State Commission for the Border with Georgia published its work, concluding that de facto South Ossetia had lost about 200 square kilometers to Georgia. This statement fueled a political crisis in the separatist region as local opposition sought to impeach de-facto president Anatoly Bibilov. Most experts studying these developments focus on their domestic roots and impacts. However, analysis of the Commission’s territorial claims in the context of the continuous borderization of the Georgian-Ossetian Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) and the creeping annexation of Georgian territory by Russian forces also indicates another possible dimension of this development: coordination between Tskhinvali and the Kremlin to annex stripes of land with military-strategic importance.
By Tony Pizur
February 22, 2022, the CACI Analyst
On January 25, Kazakhstan experienced widespread power outages that also affected neighboring Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Decaying infrastructure and increasing energy demand from cryptocurrency miners were blamed for the failure. Crypto operations are controversial because they divert scarce electricity resources from traditional household and industrial uses. After China’s complete ban on cryptocurrency activity last year, Kazakhstan was unprepared to accommodate the sudden influx of displaced crypto miners; nevertheless, the country quickly became the world’s second-largest source for newly minted bitcoins. Stopgap measures to restore power included patching physical infrastructure, sourcing electricity from Russia, and temporarily banning cryptocurrency mining.
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.