By Erik Davtyan
March 8th, the CACI Analyst
On February 1-2, Georgia’s Defense Minister Tinatin Khidasheli paid an official visit to Armenia. During a meeting with her Armenian counterpart Seyran Ohanyan, the two defense ministers discussed issues pertaining to Armenian-Georgian relations as well as global and regional security issues. The parties also signed a military cooperation plan for 2016, prioritizing exchanges of experience, military education, professional training, and strategic planning as the main objectives of this year’s agreement. It is noteworthy that Armenia and Georgia have signed military cooperation plans annually since 2010.
By Boris Ajeganov
March 7th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Uncertainty on the future of Georgia’s energy security has been growing since late 2015, when Georgia’s minister of energy and deputy PM Kakha Kaladze met with Alexey Miller, CEO of Russia’s Gazprom twice in the span of a month. Discussions on Gazprom’s potential return to the Georgian market quickly raised eyebrows in Baku and caused popular protests in Tbilisi. In a March 4 turnaround, Kaladze announced a deal to receive additional gas from Azerbaijan, thus removing the need to import Russian gas. Party politics aside, Tbilisi appears to have skillfully used its strategic position in the South Caucasus to secure a favorable energy deal without sacrificing its sovereignty.
By Avinoam Idan
February 29th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
The importance of Turkey’s downing of a Russian aircraft and the current Russian-Turkish confrontation is not only connected to the crisis in Syria; it could become a trigger for escalation between Russia and NATO. Since the break-up of the Soviet Union and NATO’s expansion eastward toward the Russian border, Russia has seen NATO as a major security threat to itself and its geostrategic space. Turkey is an important member of NATO, and 2016 is an election year in Washington. This serves as a window of opportunity for President Putin, who can take advantage of tensions with Turkey to undermine NATO’s standing.
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.
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.