by Roger N. McDermott (03/06/2013 issue of the CACI Analyst)
On February 17-21, Russia conducted its first surprise military inspection exercise in twenty years. The exercise in the Southern and Central Military Districts (MDs) tested combat readiness levels in key formations. These involved the elite Airborne Forces (VDV), Ground Forces brigades, Military Transport Aviation (VTA) and the defense ministry’s 12th Main Directorate. The top brass criticized the performance of officers and soldiers and equipment deficiencies following the exercise, which also revealed the limited power projection options the Russian military possesses in relation to Central Asia.
by Dmitry Shlapentokh (02/20/2013 issue of the CACI Analyst)
In 2011, Kazakhstan’s President expressed strong support for Vladimir Putin’s initiative of creating a Eurasian Union. In fact, Nursultan Nazarbaev himself presented similar ideas almost 20 years ago. While Putin sees the new Eurasian Union as a Russia-centered geopolitical entity with exclusive ties between Russia and other members, Kazakhstan regards its relationship with Russia as just one among several others. Kazakhstan is actually distancing itself from Moscow, which has increasingly lost its attraction as a center of science and technology for Kazakhstan’s elite. One indication is Astana’s decision to phase out Moscow’s control over the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
AZERBAIJAN BREAKS THROUGH INTO EASTERN EUROPE
Stephen Blank (02/06/2013 issue of the CACI Analyst)
On December 7, 2012 Russia began construction of its South Stream gas pipeline. Earlier in 2012 the European consortium behind the Nabucco pipeline formally submitted a revised scenario called Nabucco West to Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan and Turkey announced plans to build the Transanatolian pipeline or TANAP from the Shah Deniz gas field to Turkey’s border with Bulgaria. Nabucco West would then take gas all the way into Central Europe. Hence, Azerbaijan is now emerging as a potential major gas supplier to Eastern European states, whose governments are now eagerly courting Azerbaijan. This also means that Azerbaijan is emerging as Russia’s rival in this market.
Russian Army Ceases Conscription in Dagestan
by Emil Souleimanov (11/28/2012 issue of the CACI Analyst)
In recent years, Moscow has considerably been reducing the share of conscripts to the Russian Army from the republics of the North Caucasus, particularly from Dagestan. Military service remains popular in Dagestan, in stark contrast to much of the Russian Federation. Yet, the changing draft policy appear to be motivated by the perceived difficulty of North Caucasians to conform with the hierarchic traditions of the Russian army, and by the dangers of providing young Dagestanis with military training in the context of the North Caucasus insurgency, which is increasingly centered on Dagestan.
Following the parliamentary elections and Bidzina Ivanishvili's installation as Prime Minister, Georgia has undergone a series of arrests of former high government officials and members of the security establishment. While the now ruling coalition Georgian Dream (GD) promised during the election campaign that it would prosecute alleged misdeeds of the former government, the actions also carry the signs of a politically motivated campaign to weaken the former ruling party. While the case can be made that certain practices of the previous government should be investigated and prosecuted, the pattern of arrests risks damaging Georgia's relations with international partners as well as its domestic development process.
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.