By Najia Badykova
July 20th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On June 27, Moscow announced that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a personal letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin expressing his “regret and sorrow” for the downing of a Russian plane last November and his wish to reestablish bilateral relations. This ended a seven-month standoff between Turkey and Russia that seriously threatened their political and economic relations. Moscow welcomed the apology. Both sides have strong reasons to resume and reinforce their relations. The rapprochement will allow a restoration of diplomatic relations, and remove trade sanctions and barriers to the development of a number of joint projects, including the planned Turkish Stream gas pipeline under the Black Sea. Yet while Ankara and Moscow may return to pipeline negotiations, the gas supply situation to Europe has changed since November. Moscow has made substantial progress pushing an alternative option – an expansion of the Nord Stream pipeline.
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 Erik Davtyan
July 12th, the CACI Analyst
On June 20, the Presidents of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan – Serzh Sargsyan, Vladimir Putin and Ilham Aliyev – met in Saint Petersburg. After the unprecedented military escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh in early April, the first meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents took place in Vienna on May 16. Putin’s initiative to convene the second meeting indicates the active mediation role that Russia has taken in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict since the escalation. In April, Russian high officials paid several visits both to Yerevan and Baku to discuss the recent developments with the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaderships. In Saint Petersburg, Sargsyan and Aliyev agreed to increase the number of international observers. The parties also welcomed the fact that the ceasefire regime has generally been upheld in recent months. The presidents also decided to continue similar regular meetings in the future.
By Emil Souleimanov
July 23rd, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Recent months have seen increased attacks on journalists and human rights activists in Chechnya. Such attacks have long become characteristic of the Moscow-backed Chechen authorities’ attitude to any form of dissent, both within and outside the North Caucasus republic. While most human rights organizations and journalists were pushed out of Chechnya in the 2000s, the recent wave of violence has been particularly aggressive and threaten to remove the last resort for complaints on human rights violations as well as the only remaining sources of data on such violations in the republic.
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.
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.