By Eduard Abrahamyan
April 27th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
The recent unprecedented escalation around Nagorno-Karabakh highlighted deep systemic shortcomings in existing international mediation initiatives. The OSCE Minsk Group, dedicated to settling the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, has become largely irrelevant in the new operational situation. The intense fighting erupted on April 2 and lasted for four days until a Russia-brokered ceasefire between the adversaries was mutually agreed upon on April 5. The fighting put an end to the 22-year-old ceasefire regime, and the security environment of the South Caucasus. The escalation was clearly a consequence of a shift in the military balance of power, consistently fueled by Russia’s distribution of advanced offensive arms to Azerbaijan and the evident impracticability of the Minsk Group.
By Armen Grigoryan
April 15th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Tensions along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh between April 2 and 5 resulted in the heaviest exchanges of fire since 1994. Even though the use of some types of weapons was quite unexpected, the general logic of developments in the conflict in recent years has made the recent fighting rather predictable. Concerning further hostilities, the question is not if, but when they will happen. While this danger needs to be addressed by means of international mediation, so far only Russia demonstrates substantial activity in this regard. Russia’s unilateral involvement will pursue its own particular regional interests rather than producing a lasting solution to the conflict.
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.
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.