By Erik Davtyan
July 12th, the CACI Analyst
On June 20, the Presidents of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan – Serzh Sargsyan, Vladimir Putin and Ilham Aliyev – met in Saint Petersburg. After the unprecedented military escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh in early April, the first meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents took place in Vienna on May 16. Putin’s initiative to convene the second meeting indicates the active mediation role that Russia has taken in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict since the escalation. In April, Russian high officials paid several visits both to Yerevan and Baku to discuss the recent developments with the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaderships. In Saint Petersburg, Sargsyan and Aliyev agreed to increase the number of international observers. The parties also welcomed the fact that the ceasefire regime has generally been upheld in recent months. The presidents also decided to continue similar regular meetings in the future.
By Emil Souleimanov
July 23rd, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Recent months have seen increased attacks on journalists and human rights activists in Chechnya. Such attacks have long become characteristic of the Moscow-backed Chechen authorities’ attitude to any form of dissent, both within and outside the North Caucasus republic. While most human rights organizations and journalists were pushed out of Chechnya in the 2000s, the recent wave of violence has been particularly aggressive and threaten to remove the last resort for complaints on human rights violations as well as the only remaining sources of data on such violations in the republic.
By Stephen Blank
July 1st, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Despite the ongoing terrorist insurgency, Russian officials claim significant progress in pacifying and reintegrating the North Caucasus. For example, in 2015 alone, Ministry of Interior forces in the North Caucasus (VVMVD) allegedly killed over 70 militants. Yet the National Anti-Terrorist Committee expects that the situation in 2016 will show no signs of marked improvement. Moreover, despite many Jihadis’ departure for Syria or Iraq, local insurgent activity has not slackened. In this context, Russia is reaching out to Saudi Arabia, Gulf States and their investment vehicles, as well as Azerbaijan in what may signify more than just a search for foreign investment. Arguably, these moves mark another stage in the recession of Russian power from the North Caucasus.
By Natalia Konarzewska
June 24th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Once again, NATO will likely turn down Georgia’s bid for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) during the Alliance’s fast-approaching Warsaw summit on 8-9 July. Instead, NATO assures that Georgia will receive a firm declaration and a strengthened package of support during the summit, but no details have been yet specified. Apparently, some of NATO’s most powerful members are anxious that offering Tbilisi more will irritate Russia, which is already protesting plans to further strengthen NATO’s eastern flank. While NATO at present does not close the door to the future enlargements, Georgians are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their country’s inability to clear the path to membership – a fact eagerly exploited by outlets for Russian propaganda, which are gaining strength in Georgia.
By Najia Badykova
June 17th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Free of many sanctions, Iran is becoming an active player in the South Caucasus, taking steps towards greater involvement in the region. Russia is not objecting, and even appears to be supporting these initiatives. In March, Armenia’s Energy Minister Levon Yolyan announced that Iran will build a gas distribution network in southern Armenia. Russia’s Gazprom, which currently controls that country’s gas distribution system, has not opposed this plan. Iran is also involved in another initiative with Russia, Armenia and Georgia. The four countries have agreed to build the North-South Energy Corridor, linking them to a unified electric grid. These recent initiatives are just the first to take off. Iran and Russia have been deepening their economic ties with all South Caucasus countries, securing reliable transit corridors while keeping other foreign competitors out of the picture.
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.