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Regional Security Situation In Central Asia And The Caucasus Region

Some Outputs From The EESF Workshop On The Regional Security Situation In Central Asia And The Caucasus Region.



Conclusions on the Caucasus region


Armenia


Although Russia remains Armenia's main trading partner, politically Yerevan is carefully but systematically cutting itself off from Russia. Pashinyan argues that Moscow is to blame for the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. This is being actively used by other parties interested in reducing the Russian military presence in the region. However, Yerevan is unlikely to be able to cancel Russian military bases on its territory in the near future, as this would lead to significant economic problems for Armenia.


Pashinyan has also managed to consolidate his power inside the country by getting rid of the powerful "Karabakh clan," which was allied to the Kremlin and used the situation of permanent conflict with Azerbaijan to strengthen itself.


At the same time, Armenia appears to be under the threat of a new military conflict over Nakhichevan's unresolved status within Armenia. Apparently, Aliyev aims to maximize the use of Armenia's vulnerable military status to resolve all territorial disputes left over from the Soviet Union. In this regard, Armenia's desire to maximize its armed forces at the expense of French support is understandable. In fact, Pashinyan is currently in a race against time, in which Armenia is initially in a losing position.

 

Azerbaijan/Turkey


Turkey considers Azerbaijan as its main strategic ally in the Caucasus region and is constantly strengthening their ties in various directions. In particular, Turkey is already investing in the Karabakh region and continues to strengthen the military strength of its ally.

Obviously, Azerbaijan/Turkey are currently considering both peace and military plans to connect Nakhichevan and the main territory of Azerbaijan, as well as to establish a direct link between Turkey and its "Turkic allies" – Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan – through the Zangezur corridor as part of Erdogan's pan-Turkish project to create a "Union of Turkic Nations."


In general, despite the demonstration of interest in resolving the remaining territorial disputes in a peaceful manner shown by Armenia and Azerbaijan, there is still a rather high risk of a new armed conflict.

 

Iranian vector


Iran continues to demonstrate its desire to play an increasingly important role for the post-Soviet countries of the Caucasus region, developing, above all, trade and economic cooperation. At the same time, there is a confrontation between the Turkey/Azerbaijan bloc and Iran, which supports Armenia. The intensity of the confrontation has now somewhat subsided due to Iran's attempts to create the international platform "3+2" (originally "3+3") – a regional format of cooperation between Azerbaijan, Armenia, the Russian Federation, Iran and Turkey. Due to the obvious contradictions between the participants of the platform, however, it is unlikely that any success can be expected from it. Thus, Georgia, which initially participated in the project, has already withdrawn from the platform, most likely due to Russian pressure on the pro-Russian ruling elite of this country.

 

Conclusions on Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan)


  • The Central Asian region is considered by Moscow to be one of the most important in terms of compensating for foreign trade losses as a result of Western sanctions.

  • In addition, against the background of a significant withdrawal of the able-bodied population to participate in the fighting in Ukraine, Russia's dependence on labor migrants from this region is growing stronger.

  • In this regard, attempts to keep the Central Asian countries in the orbit of Russia's interests are carried out in almost all spheres: economic, political, cultural and others.

  • Accordingly, there is a significant increase in mutual trade turnover with almost all countries of the region. However, the pragmatic approach of the Central Asian countries and their desire to significantly change the import-export balance in their favor should be noted here.

  • Another important aspect is Russia's significant investments in the countries of the region, the main areas of which are logistics and transportation, as well as raw materials, energy, manufacturing and agro-industrial spheres.

  • It is most likely that by the end of 2023, Kazakhstan will still be Russia's main partner in the Central Asian region. In turn, Russia will retain the position of the main foreign trade partner for Tajikistan.

  • At the same time, despite the significant growth of trade turnover between Central Asian countries and Russia due to Western sanctions, there is no talk of the latter's dominance in the region, primarily due to the growing activity of their other partners, primarily China and Turkey.

  • Against the background of significantly increased interest in the development of economic ties with Central Asian countries on the part of a number of regional and world leaders, all Central Asian countries are making serious efforts to expand the geography and thematic content of bilateral cooperation with other countries.

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