By Boris Ajeganov
August 10th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Georgian PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili became the first foreign head of state to visit Turkey after the failed coup attempt by parts of the Turkish military in the evening of Friday, July 15. Kvirikashvili met with his counterpart, PM Binali Yildirim, and President Erdoğan in Ankara on July 19 as part of an inaugural meeting of the High Level Georgia-Turkey Strategic Cooperation Council. The visit — the PM’s first official to Turkey — was planned long before the attempted coup. Although the event focused on bilateral trade and economic issues, both parties emphasized that the official visit demonstrated Georgia’s continued support for Turkey’s democratically elected authorities, despite concerns that Erdoğan used the coup attempt as pretext for a major purge of political opponents at all levels of government. In the end of the day, regardless of what direction Turkey’s politics take, Georgia does not have much of a choice but to toe its neighbor’s line, come rain or shine.
By Eduard Abrahamyan
July 24th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On June 30, Armenia’s Parliament ratified the Russia-Armenia United Regional System of Air Defense in the Caucasian Region, thereby moving it to the operational stage. The agreement was preliminarily signed in in Moscow by Armenia’s and Russia’s defense ministers in December 2015, on the basis of analogous accords with Belarus and Kazakhstan in 2009 and 2013 respectively. While the approval was accompanied with speculations on how Armenia could benefit from the accord, Moscow’s potential to exploit the agreement in its anti-Western posture has received less attention. In particular, the joint air-defense system presumably constitutes a reinforcing element of Moscow’s anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities in the eastern flank of the Black Sea region.
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 Roger N. McDermott
March 28th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Russia’s and Tajikistan’s joint antiterrorist exercise on March 15-20 involved five Tajik training ranges, and showcased bilateral security cooperation. The exercise seemed routine, consistent with each country’s national security concerns; however a number of factors coalesced on Moscow’s planning and deployment side to make it both unique and potentially revealing. Buoyed by its recent experience of military conflict in Ukraine and Syria, Russia’s Armed Forces display increased confidence in supporting a more pro-active Russian foreign policy posture. The elements it deployed in Tajikistan for the exercise contain strategic messages for the benefit of other actors and Russia’s potential adversaries in Central Asia: for regional governments the message is one of reassurance and renewed confidence.
By Stephen Blank
March 15th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
For years, Moscow has fulminated against the Taliban as a terrorist force that represented a threat not only to Afghanistan’s security but also to Central Asia and even to Russia itself. Yet news surfaced in December that Russia is sharing intelligence with the Taliban and apparently has been in discussions with it since 2013. According to U.S. intelligence sources, these discussions have also been accompanied by weapons transfers. Thus, while Russia is constantly, along with Central Asian leaders, playing up the ISIS threat and selling weapons to the Afghan government, it also shares intelligence and possibly sells weapons to its Taliban adversaries. These contradictions expose some of the problems in Russia’s regional policies in Central Asia and in its approach to terrorism.
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.