by Robert M. Cutler (04/03/2013 issue of the CACI Analyst)
The success of the recent summit between the Russian and Chinese presidents is significant not only for agreements reached between the two sides but also for the absence of disagreements over Central Asia. Speculation abounded after the Soviet break-up over possible Russo-Chinese competition; but by the time the U.S. military established a presence in Central Asia in support of Afghanistan operations, a Sino-Russian entente had begun to close over the region. Today Sino-Russian energy cooperation outside Central Asia and deepening political elite-level friendships signify the re-assertion of that bilateral entente as the U.S. diminishes its profile in Central Asia.
by Joldosh Osmonov (03/06/2013 issue of the CACI Analyst)
After the U.S. evacuates the Transit Center at the Manas airport in 2014, Russia intends to replace it with a civic cargo logistics center. However, it is still unknown whether the U.S. airbase will actually be removed and the heated discussions around the issue are at their height.
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.
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.