By Stephen Blank
February 9, 2024
Virtually every assessment of trends in Central Asia since Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and many preceding analyses have postulated a decline in most if not all dimensions of Russian influence and capacity. To be sure, Russia’s imperial aspirations and ability to indulge in them remain central to Russian policy. Nevertheless, that capacity and ability to give this area the attention it merits has visibly declined, not least regarding defense policy. That decline has opened and continues to create opportunities for other interested parties to raise their regional profile, including China, Turkey, India, the EU, and the U.S.
By Alexander Yeo and Dr. Emil A. Souleimanov
October 26, 2023
The demise of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group, in August marks a time of change for the Russian elite. Chechnya’s strongman Ramzan Kadyrov is one of the members of the elite most likely to take advantage of the situation to strengthen his own position. In contrast to Prigozhin’s unpredictability, Kadyrov represents a controllable alternative for Putin given his utter reliance on the Russian President, and thus will be able to provide loyalty and stability through his own private security apparatus. The utilization of this apparatus, however, presents risks for Kadyrov. Therefore, Kadyrov is likely to look to improve his internal political position within Russia in the coming months.
By Mamuka Tsereteli
August 11, 2022
Kazakhstan, and Central Asia in general, needs a long-term energy and commodity export strategy. Economic and energy security for the landlocked countries requires diversification of the transportation options for export and import. Europe will need every extra barrel of oil it can get, and Kazakhstan needs reliable markets, so uninterrupted access to resources and markets through trusted connectivity with the likeminded countries should always be the priority in all times, good and bad.
By Natalia Konarzewska
April 6, 2022
Like several other countries, Azerbaijan seeks to retain functioning relations with both Russia and Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion. Baku provides Ukraine with humanitarian aid yet avoids actions directly opposing Moscow for fear of retaliation. Baku’s position reflects its interest in maintaining Russia’s acceptance of Azerbaijan’s multi-vector foreign policy and in gaining Moscow’s support for its objectives in Nagorno-Karabakh. Moreover, the recent surge of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh suggests that Baku is taking advantage of the opportunity arising as Western and Russian attention is directed elsewhere to improve its own position vis-à-vis the separatist region.
By Avinoam Idan
August 31, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The violent gunfire that erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan in July appears to have no connection with the ongoing conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. This event took place far from Nagorno-Karabakh, in the Tovuz region. The strategic importance of the Tovuz region is its location on the energy export pipelines route from the Caspian Sea to Turkey and Western markets. It would seem that the players involved here are none other than Russia and Turkey, in active conflict vis-a-vis the war in Libya. The gunfire can be interpreted as a Russian message to Turkey, regarding its energy supply security from the Caspian Sea. If so, this is not the first time Russia has used Armenia to further its interests in the region.
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.