By Theresa Sabonis-Helf
March 13, 2017, the CACI Analyst
The critical but aging Georgian hydropower facility of Enguri is currently closed and under inspection, likely in urgent need of repairs. The facility serves both Georgia and Abkhazia, with portions of the facility located in each territory. Existing agreements compel Georgia to keep the lights on in Abkhazia – for free – in return for Abkhazia's (and Russia's) continued acknowledgement Georgia as the owner and operator of the facility. With Abkhaz consumption continuing to rise, Georgia is increasingly questioning how much it should be willing to do in order to maintain control of its largest power plant.
By Anar Valiyev
March 7, 2017, the CACI Analyst
On November 30, 2016, the defense ministries of Armenia and Russia signed an agreement to establish a joint Russian-Armenian Military Joint Task Force (MJTF). In June 2016, Armenia agreed to join Russia's regional air security system designed to protect Russia's southern borders and its allies. The treaty allowed Armenia to rely on Russia's anti-aircraft system and military satellites in order to defend its airspace. In late September 2016, it was revealed that Moscow had transferred the Iskander mobile short-range missile system to Armenia. These recent developments have raised serious concerns in Baku over Armenia's military buildup and its consequences for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
By Dmitry Shlapentokh
March 3, 2017, the CACI Analyst
Russia’s economic condition remains precarious, mostly due to low oil prices, whereas Western sanctions have created additional problems. There are so far few signs of public discontent and Putin’s approval ratings remain high. Yet the Russian leadership apparently does not exclude the possibility of mass protests similar to those erupting in early 2012, which could spread and create a problem for the regime. In response to this possible scenario, Putin announced the creation of a National Guard in April 2016, a process that should be completed in 2017. The National Guard incorporated Chechen forces loyal to Ramzan Kadyrov, which could be deployed by the regime as a last resort.
By Fuad Shahbazov
February 21, 2017, the CACI Analyst
China's gradually increasing economic role in Central Asia since the early 2000s is unsurprising considering the region's geographic proximity to China's dynamic economy. In this context, Beijing has carefully shaped a military strategy in the region, particularly in neighboring Tajikistan. In September 2016, Beijing offered to finance and build several outposts and other military facilities (in addition to the Gulhan post, which was opened in 2012) to beef up Tajikistan's defense capabilities along its border with Afghanistan, whereas China's and Tajikistan's militaries performed a large counter-terrorism exercise in October 2016. These unexpected actions have raised concerns in Russia over rising Chinese influence in Tajikistan.
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.