By Boris Ajeganov
January 23, 2017, the CACI Analyst
Foreign investment in Georgia is strengthening the country’s importance in connecting East Asia with Europe, which has positive implications for the broader region. The rise in FDI in commercial and transportation infrastructure in combination with the signing of international free trade agreements will reduce Georgia’s vulnerability in terms of economic and, ultimately, ‘hard’ security. The growing importance of the South Caucasus as node for EU-China trade will weaken Russia’s incentives to undermine its southern neighbors by military, political, and economic means as it has done in the past. Accordingly, Tbilisi’s ability to conduct an independent foreign policy is set to improve despite the absence of Western security guarantees.
By Richard Weitz
January 19th 2017, the CACI Analyst
The Trump administration will soon undertake a comprehensive review of Russia-US relations and U.S. policy toward the rest of Eurasia. Although the new team will presumably consider many options, the president-elect’s statements imply that the U.S. will not soon support further NATO expansion or other actions that would strongly antagonize Moscow. Despite this limitation, the U.S. government will continue security ties with U.S. partners in Eurasia, such as Georgia. In practice, there are a number of steps the U.S. and Georgia can undertake to advance their mutual security.
By Stephen Blank
January 16th, 2017, The CACI Analyst
Recent evidence shows a gradual increase in Chinese military activity in Central Asia, particularly with Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, although China has for years denied any military interest in the region. In October, PLA and Tajik forces jointly participated in counterterrorism exercises in Tajikistan near the border with Afghanistan, following earlier activity in 2016. Whereas Tajikistan was then silent, this time it publicized the exercises, which aroused a visible anxiety in the Russian media although the Russian government has hitherto been unwilling to comment on this issue. China’s initiative could imply a major new development in Chinese policy and in Central Asia’s overall security, with lasting implications for the region.
By Eduard Abrahamyan
December 16th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On November 12, 2016, Vladimir Putin officially approved a government proposal to form a permanent joint Russian-Armenian ground force. This is the second Russian initiative following the establishment of a united Russian-Armenian regional air defense system. As the crisis in Ukraine has expanded, the security thinking of the Russian leadership has undergone important changes regarding the imposition of actionable mechanisms intended to prevent allies such as Armenia from drifting westwards. By reinforcing existing military bases and simultaneously integrating Armenia’s armed forces into its Southern Military District (SMD) framework, Russia seeks to bolster its control over Armenia’s defense strategy and defense policy-making.
By John C. K. Daly
December 12th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On October 2, China and Georgia signed a preliminary free trade agreement (FTA), scheduled to take effect from the end of 2017, China’s first substantive FTA negotiations in Eurasia. The FTA’s 17 sections include trade goods, services, intellectual property rights and emerging issues like e-commerce, with the two parties agreeing to remove all tariffs for most of the two nations’ commodity trade, as well as pledging to open many service sector markets and improve bilateral trade laws while identifying key areas for enhancing cooperation.
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.