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 Vali Kaleji
October 13, 2023
Various reports indicate that the water level of the Caspian Sea has decreased by one meter in recent years and could drop by 9 to 18 meters (30 to 59 feet) by the end of the 21st century. Although climate change contributes to this process, Russia’s construction of dams on the Volga River has played an important role in reducing the amount of water entering the Caspian Sea. This will have significant and serious implications, including a decline of the sea water level, a considerable retreat of the sea and increase of the land and coastal area especially in upstream countries (Russia and Kazakhstan), challenges to the operation of ports and shipping, as well as environmental consequences, particularly the drying of protected areas and wetlands.
By Natalia Konarzewska
March 10, 2023
Isolated but natural gas-rich Turkmenistan has recently become a subject of geopolitical competition owing to the energy crisis in Europe and Western energy sanctions imposed on Russia as a consequence of its invasion of Ukraine. During a mid-December 2022 tripartite meeting in Turkmenistan between the presidents of Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought to make the case for Ashgabat to join the Organization of Turkic States and to start exporting its gas via the Caspian Sea and Turkey to Europe. Turkmenistan, however, prefers to remain neutral and maintain positive relations with Moscow, which would be at risk if the country decided to export its gas to Turkey bypassing Russia. Moreover, Russia’s plans to divert its trade and gas export routes towards Asian markets potentially offers a prominent role for Turkmenistan.
By Vali Kaleji
January 17, 2023
Recent agreements between Tehran and Moscow on an oil-gas swap is another sign of Russia’s turn towards Asian oil and gas markets and closer relations between the two countries in light of Russia’s war in Ukraine. If these agreements are finalized, Iran will import 20 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas from Russia annually. Since Iran and Russia do not have a common land border, gas must be swapped from two routes, namely Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in Central Asia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus.
By S. Frederick Starr
December 2, 2022
In recent months Turkmenistan has emerged from its self-imposed shell. Under its new president, Serdar Berdimuhamedov, it has launched a very active, though still cautious, foreign policy. While reaffirming its neutral status, which the UN recognized in 1995, it has intensified its relations with all the global powers and, significantly, with its neighbors as well. Both the U.S. and EU have applauded these initiatives and the new president’s strategic concept that underlies them. However, events unfold, Turkmenistan has decisively lifted its head, and will henceforth be a significant factor in regional and continental affairs and not simply a perplexing outlier.
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.