By S. Frederick Starr
January 22, 2024
The absence of a region-wide and Central Asian-controlled coordinating institution leaves the region vulnerable to pressures from its major neighbors, Russia and China. To be effective, such an institution must be legitimized by an international agreement or treaty. The Central Asian states’ “Nuclear Free Zone” agreement meets this criterion and has been signed by China and Russia, but not by the U.S., the UK, or France. If the U.S. were to join this pact, the Central Asians will use it as an umbrella beneath which they can erect the security and economic arrangements they so desperately need.
January 19, 2024
Turkmenistan underwent a serious rapprochement with Russia in recent years, particularly after the establishment of a ruling tandem with Serdar Berdimuhamedow as a formal president and his father, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, who retained significant influence in Turkmenistan’s domestic and foreign policy. Due to a few viable alternatives, Russia represents the balancing factor for Turkmenistan towards the increasing Chinese influence over the country and the principal supporter of the regime. On the contrary, Turkmenistan remains a loyal partner in the region for Russia, where the most significant players (Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) expressed their cautious approach towards Russia's advance in Ukraine.
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 Stephen Blank
July 10, 2023
On May 4 Secretary of State Blinken announced that the negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan had made progress and that an agreement that would terminate the thirty-year war over Nagorno-Karabakh was “within reach.” While much more negotiation is obviously necessary and will be difficult, this announcement, if true, is an epochal one whose ramifications spread from Europe to the Middle East and Central Asia. It also reflects the fact that security in the Caucasus cannot be considered separately from a discussion of international order in those three regions. If Washington can broker or mediate an end to this war it, with the support of the EU whose prior initiative has been the basis for its approach, will become the primary foreign power and even possibly security manager in the Caucasus.
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.
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.