By Alexander Yeo and Dr. Emil A. Souleimanov
October 26, 2023
The demise of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group, in August marks a time of change for the Russian elite. Chechnya’s strongman Ramzan Kadyrov is one of the members of the elite most likely to take advantage of the situation to strengthen his own position. In contrast to Prigozhin’s unpredictability, Kadyrov represents a controllable alternative for Putin given his utter reliance on the Russian President, and thus will be able to provide loyalty and stability through his own private security apparatus. The utilization of this apparatus, however, presents risks for Kadyrov. Therefore, Kadyrov is likely to look to improve his internal political position within Russia in the coming months.
Svante E. Cornell
October 24, 2023
Almost four years have passed since President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev embarked upon an agenda to bring thorough reforms to Kazakhstan’s politics and society. This article looks at the process of implementation of these reforms in a highly precarious geopolitical environment, where Russia’s war in Ukraine has led to increasing threats to Kazakhstan’s integrity by leading Russian figures. This analysis shows that Kazakhstan has proceeded on institutional reform, including modest but meaningful steps in sensitive areas such as separation of powers and electoral systems.
Svante E. Cornell and Brenda Shaffer
October 17, 2023
Major recent shifts, starting with the Taliban victory in Afghanistan and Russia’s war in Ukraine have led to a resurgence of the Trans-Caspian transportation corridor. This corridor, envisioned in the 1990s, has been slow to come to fruition, but has now suddenly found much- needed support. The obstacles to a rapid expansion of the corridor’s capacity are nevertheless considerable, given the underinvestment in its capacity over many years.
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 Michael Tanchum
September 8, 2023
Georgia’s near total reliance on imported Russian wheat forms an extremely dangerous vulnerability that compromises both its food security and sovereignty. Fifteen years after the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, Tbilisi finds itself depending on Russia for over 90 percent of its wheat supply amidst a growing global shortage. In 2022, NATO reiterated its commitment to Georgia, pledging to help build Georgia’s resilience and uphold its political independence. As Georgia strives to loosen Moscow’s strategic stranglehold by finding alternative import sources and increasing domestic wheat production, it faces challenges that require trade and technical assistance that a coordinated effort by the U.S., Turkey and other NATO members can provide.
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.