Eurasia News Week in Review

A round-up of some of the top articles and news highlights from around the region over the last week:

Central Asia:

  • Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon traveled to Moscow and met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Rahmon promised that some time in the fall his country would ratify an agreement extending the presence of Russia’s 201st Military Base in Tajikistan until 2042. Tajikistan has delayed ratification the agreement, signed by the two presidents last year, for reasons that remain unclear. And Putin vowed to help Tajikistan’s armed forces deal with instability coming from Afghanistan after the pullout of U.S. and coalition forces in 2014. “President Vladimir Putin’s orders are straightforward: to assess all risks and to help the Tajik armed forces face these risks,” said Russia’s defense minister Sergei Shoigu after the meeting. 

  • A governmental think tank official in Tajikistan has claimed that “certain countries” are conspiring to create a “Great Badakhshan” from the eastern Badakhshan regions of Tajikistan and Afghanistan. The official, deputy director of the Center for Strategic Studies, Sayfullo Safarov, did not specify which countries those were. But he said that Russia and China were helping to oppose such schemes. “Our strategic partners – Russia and China – will help us. However, some countries are hatching such plans we must be vigilant in order to keep stability in this region,” Safarov said.

The Caucasus:

  • A Turkish shepherd who inadvertently crossed over the border to Armenia was shot and killed by a border guard, sparking official protests from Turkey. “There is no explanation for the Armenian party’s use of disproportionate force in such an incident which may typically occur at the border,” said the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in an official statement. Armenia responded expressing its “pain” at the incident, though Armenians pointed out that it is the Russian border service that guards the Armenia-Turkey border.

  • The European Union Monitoring Mission on the de facto boundary between Georgia proper and the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia has expressed “concern” over Russian forces creating physical barriers on the boundaries, as well as an increase in detentions for violating the de facto borders. “This ever increasing number of obstacles affects livelihood issues, as it disrupts patterns of life of the local population and divides communities,” an EUMM official said.

  • The armed forces of the breakaway territory of Nagorno Karabakh have taken delivery of significant amounts of weaponry and ammunition over the past two years, military leaders have said. “We have never had a situation which we have now in terms of obtaining concrete weapons and military hardware,” said Karabakh’s top military commander, General Movses Hakobian. Hakobian added that the territory – which broke away from Azerbaijan after the collapse of the Soviet Union and is now controlled by Armenian forces – will have to build new arms depots because of the quantity of new equipment. However, authorities declined to specify what sort of hardware they had acquired.

Quick Hits from Central Asia and the South Caucasus:

  • Kazakhstan’s naval forces have conducted a military exercise in the Caspian Sea. 

  • Azerbaijan’s defense minister is visiting Washington.

  • Georgia’s former defense minister was acquitted of charges, including that he abused soldiers, by the Tbilisi City Court.

  • Turkmenistan has asked for international adjudication of its disputed Caspian Sea boundary with Azerbaijan. (Turkmen State News Service, via BBC Monitoring) The disputed boundary has in the past resulted in tense episodes between the two countries’ naval forces.

  • Kyrgyzstan’s border service said that over the past three years there have been 30 “armed incidents” and five deaths on the country’s border with Uzbekistan.

  • Chinese troops are conducting joint “anti-terror” exercises with Russia. 

  • The head of U.S. Central Command, General Lloyd Austin, continued his tour of Central Asia, visiting Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon in Dushanbe. 

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