By John C. K. Daly
December 20, 2021, the CACI Analyst
On December 10, 2020, Russian Duma deputy Viacheslav Nikonov claimed that there had been no such country as Kazakhstan in the past, and that the northern part of modern-day Kazakhstan used to be unpopulated. He did so on his “The Great Game” (Большая игра) TV program on the state-backed Channel One, dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Belovezha Accords. Rubbing salt in the wound, Nikonov added that “Kazakhstan’s territory is a big gift from Russia,” causing consternation in the Kazakh government and outrage in the country’s media. In light of Russia’s March 2014 unilateral territorial absorption of Ukraine’s Crimea, questions of post-Soviet national territorial sovereignty are not an idle concern.
By Dmitry Shlapentokh
September 13, 2021, the CACI Analyst
Kazakhstan is undergoing several contradictory processes that superficially seem disconnected. Relations between Astana and Moscow have worsened visibly, despite the fact that both countries are members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Influential Russian Duma deputy Viacheslav Nikonov has insisted that Kazakhstan is actually an artificial state created by the Soviet regime. According to Nikonov, the northern part of the country, with a large number of ethnic Russians and/or Russian-speakers, is actually part of Siberia and was an unlawfully given to Kazakhstan. Kazakh authorities rejected these statements and arrested Ermek Taichibekov, an ethnic Kazakh intellectual who has advocated close ties with Russia. Simultaneously, while increasingly hostile to Russia, members of the Kazakh political elite have sought to forge a reconciliatory message, wrapped in historical allusions, to Kazakhstan’s Russians in support of their peaceful assimilation.
By Richard Weitz
July 14, 2021, the CACI Analyst
A century ago, the Italian author Luigi Pirandello wrote a three-act play entitled “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” which explored the difficulty of differentiating between illusion and reality. The analyst of the recent border clash between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan faces the same challenge. The event, which saw the most serious fighting between independent Central Asian republics, offers several plausible explanations with divergent policy implications.
By Vali Kaleji
July 8, 2021, the CACI Analyst
After the Second Karabakh War, the tripartite ceasefire agreement on November 10, 2020, opens a possibility for Iran to become connected to the southern railway network in the South Caucasus. As a result of the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, an important part of the South Caucasus Railway, which passed through the Nakhichevan region, Syunik Province in southern Armenia, and Jabrail, Fizuli and Zangilan regions in southern Azerbaijan, was destroyed or removed from communication routes. As a result, unlike Turkey and Russia, Iran has no rail connection to the Caucasus.
By Robert M. Cutler
May 11, 2021, the CACI Analyst
The implementation of the trilateral agreement brokered by Russia on the night of November 9-10, 2020, between Armenia and Azerbaijan continues in fits and starts. Most near-term questions have been resolved. How intermediate-term issues turn out depend upon the results of the snap parliamentary elections called in June by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. As for the longer-term outcome, this is more difficult to estimate, and it is path-dependent upon those elections. In this regard, events on the ground—but not only the elections—are still in control, even if these are no longer military events.
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.