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.
By Erik Davtyan
January 18th, the CACI Analyst
On December 18-19, 2015 the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev, held a meeting in Bern, Switzerland. The Bern meeting came after an interlude of more than a year. The latest bilateral meeting at the presidential level took place in Paris on October 27, 2014 on the initiative of France’s President François Hollande, following previous meetings on September 4 in New Port, Wales on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s initiative, and in Sochi on August 10, hosted by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
By Dmitry Shlapentokh
November 6, 2015, The CACI Analyst
Moscow has recently undertaken several actions aiming to increase Russia’s influence in the Middle East and Central Asia. On August 23-28, 2015, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which includes several members from Central Asia, undertook military exercises in Russia. Russian authorities stated that the maneuvers aimed to help CSTO members develop means to effectively move airborne forces and other troops to conflict zones, including in Central Asia. The exercises partly served to address a real concern on the part of Russia as well as other CSTO members over the rise of the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS). However, Russia sees ISIS not only as a threat but also as an opportunity for both increasing Russia’s influence in Central Asia and providing a pretext for its venture in the Middle East.
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.