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.
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.