By Roger N. McDermott
March 28th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Russia’s and Tajikistan’s joint antiterrorist exercise on March 15-20 involved five Tajik training ranges, and showcased bilateral security cooperation. The exercise seemed routine, consistent with each country’s national security concerns; however a number of factors coalesced on Moscow’s planning and deployment side to make it both unique and potentially revealing. Buoyed by its recent experience of military conflict in Ukraine and Syria, Russia’s Armed Forces display increased confidence in supporting a more pro-active Russian foreign policy posture. The elements it deployed in Tajikistan for the exercise contain strategic messages for the benefit of other actors and Russia’s potential adversaries in Central Asia: for regional governments the message is one of reassurance and renewed confidence.
By Eduard Abrahamyan
March 16th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Amidst the rising optimism emanating from Iran détente with the West, Armenian authorities have since 2015 sought to reinforce military and security ties with Tehran. Armenia’s MoD leadership visited Tehran on May 24-25, 2015 and after finding common ground on a broad spectrum of issues, Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan pledged to visit Yerevan in the foreseeable future, though this has yet to take place. Iran indeed sees a potential for increasing its role in the South Caucasus after the sanctions were lifted. Could Iran present Armenia with an alternative in order to balance its overwhelming dependence on Russia?
By Roger N. McDermott
February 25th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Moscow has stated that among its defense and security priorities for 2016, Central Asia and the South Caucasus will top its agenda. Kavkaz 2016, the main strategic military exercise of the year, will take place in the Southern Military District (MD), while Tsentr 2015 occurred in Central MD with among its vignettes a rehearsal of intervention in Central Asia. Surprisingly in this context, the Defense Ministry plans to restructure the 201st Base in Tajikistan from divisional to brigade status. This initiative is driven by Moscow’s growing concerns about the future of Central Asian security as it faces multiple potential threats stemming from Afghanistan and Islamic State (ISIS). But paradoxically, Moscow’s latest moves to strengthen the basing of its forces in Tajikistan serves as an indicator of official perceptions that the region could suffer a serious security challenge.
By Armen Grigoryan
February 22nd, 2016, The CACI Analyst
The confrontation between Russia and Turkey, and the fast-changing situation on the oil and natural gas markets, have strongly impacted the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process, as well as the internal state of affairs in both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Russia recently increased its military presence in Armenia, which has unsuccessfully sought support from fellow CSTO members in its confrontation with Azerbaijan. The ongoing clashes along the line of contact imply that the situation will likely remain tense in the short term. Meanwhile, the economic downturn in Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as in Russia, increases the risk of domestically motivated escalation of the conflict.
By Ipek Velioglu
February 8th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Turkish-Russian relations have not recovered after the downing of a Russian jet last November. On the contrary, the tension is spreading into neighboring areas. Russia is pressuring the Central Asian countries, politically and economically, to constrain Turkey’s activities in the region. Although Ankara’s influence in the Central Asian Republics is limited, it developed good ties with almost all them after the collapse of the USSR. Turkey was the first country to recognize the new-born states; it has supported their independence and contributed to their integration into the international system. Under the AKP’s rule, Turkey has also become a major donor for some of them. Central Asian countries now seek risk being dragged into the Turkish-Russian standoff.
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.