By Vali Kaleji
October 13, 2023
Various reports indicate that the water level of the Caspian Sea has decreased by one meter in recent years and could drop by 9 to 18 meters (30 to 59 feet) by the end of the 21st century. Although climate change contributes to this process, Russia’s construction of dams on the Volga River has played an important role in reducing the amount of water entering the Caspian Sea. This will have significant and serious implications, including a decline of the sea water level, a considerable retreat of the sea and increase of the land and coastal area especially in upstream countries (Russia and Kazakhstan), challenges to the operation of ports and shipping, as well as environmental consequences, particularly the drying of protected areas and wetlands.
By Robert M. Cutler
September 18, 2023
The negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan were making important and substantive progress before the summer break. In the interim, however the Armenian government and diaspora have taken advantage of the diplomatic hiatus to launch a sustained, high-level international campaign that appears designed to create obstacles to a final peace settlement. Time is increasingly important due to political considerations. The end of the current calendar year is a crucial date. Obstacles should not be tolerated, and a concerted good-faith effort by all parties is required.
By Stephen Blank
July 10, 2023
On May 4 Secretary of State Blinken announced that the negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan had made progress and that an agreement that would terminate the thirty-year war over Nagorno-Karabakh was “within reach.” While much more negotiation is obviously necessary and will be difficult, this announcement, if true, is an epochal one whose ramifications spread from Europe to the Middle East and Central Asia. It also reflects the fact that security in the Caucasus cannot be considered separately from a discussion of international order in those three regions. If Washington can broker or mediate an end to this war it, with the support of the EU whose prior initiative has been the basis for its approach, will become the primary foreign power and even possibly security manager in the Caucasus.
By Alexander Yeo and Emil Souleimanov
Russia has long been a regional hegemon, able to actively exert hard and soft power over many of its neighbors, the Central Asian and South Caucasian states among them. However, since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, this influence has weakened, with military and economic resources being diverted to an increasingly protracted and unpredictable war effort. This has led to a shift in regional power balances, as showcased by Azerbaijan’s ascendancy in the South Caucasus, as well as economic challenges including the difficult choices faced by the allies of an increasingly isolated Russia.
By Robert M. Cutler
June 26, 2023
Intensive rounds of negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the past few months seem to be hitting a pause. Some progress has been made via each of the now-existing three tracks sponsored respectively by Russia, by the EU, and by the U.S. These have shown a certain limited mutual complementarity, yet crucial issues still await authoritative resolution. At present, only the U.S. would appear to have the goal of a final peace treaty firmly in sight. The process presided by Council of the EU President Charles Michel in Brussels may potentially still be helpful, but the activity of other EU institutions has become obstructive. U.S. diplomacy should not allow the current momentum to dissipate.
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.