Eurasian Affairs- April 2019

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Eurasian Affairs looks at the wide expanse of Eurasia, but particularly focuses on those issues affecting relations between Eurasian states and the US and/or with Russia. Also of specific interest within that focus are issues that might affect global economic, human rights, or military concerns.

This free resource from GeoHistory serves to track and analyze these issues as they develop in Eurasia.



Are Russia and China Really Forming an Alliance?
The historical relationship between Russia and China and the drastic inequality between their two economies.

Putin Lauds China Infrastructure Initiative, Warming Ties
Russian President Vladimir Putin praised China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, underscoring warming ties between the neighboring powers.

Kim-Putin: North Korean and Russian Leaders to Meet for First Time
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Russia for his first ever talks with Vladimir Putin.

At Kim-Putin Summit, Hearty Handshakes and Manspreading
The ambiance was friendly. Nice, comfy seats. An exchange of polite welcomes.

Putin Says He’ll Brief US on Summit with Kim
President Vladimir Putin says he’s willing to share details with the United States about his summit with Kim Jong Un.

Kim-Putin Summit Proves Anti-Climactic
Call for multi-lateral framework to guarantee North Korean security is only new suggestion from Vladivostok summit.


Central Asia

Centenary Anniversaries of Independence: Baltics, East European, and Caucasian Contexts
A look at how the centenary festivities in the Baltic states, Eastern Europe, and South Caucasus contribute to the ongoing debate about the relationship between a former empire and its colonial subalterns.

Nazarbayev Generation: Kazakhstan’s Youth, National Identity Transformations and Their Political Consequences
Half of Kazakhstan’s population was born after Nazarbayev took power three decades ago: those aged under 29 comprise 9 million Kazakhstani citizens, or 51 percent of the population.

Russia Restarts Turkmen Gas Imports After 3-Year Stoppage
Russia has resumed importing natural gas from Turkmenistan following a three-year break, Gazprom confirmed on April 16.

No Breakthrough Evident at Nagorno-Karabakh Talks in Moscow
The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers have agreed to press ahead with efforts to end the conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, but no major progress was evident after a meeting in Moscow.



China Pledges to Boost Trade and Infrastructure Ties with CEE Countries
China promised to boost trade ties and to increase financial support for infrastructure projects in Central and Southeast Europe at the annual summit meeting of 16 countries in the region in Dubrovnik on April 12.

Belarus Threatens to Suspend Russia’s Oil Transit to Europe Amid Snowballing Energy Conflict with Moscow
Belarusian authoritarian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has ordered his government to suspend Russia’s oil transit to Europe saying the pipelines running through his country to Europe are “in need of repairs.”

Russia-Germany Gas Pipeline Seeks New Route in Baltic Sea
The developers of a natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany applied Monday for a third route south of Denmark’s Baltic Sea island of Bornholm, as they try to overcome objections from the country.

German Investments in Russia Reach Their Highest Level in the Last Decade
German business investments into Russia topped €3bn in 2018, the highest level in a decade.

Estonia’s President Appoints Coalition of Centrists and Far Right
The Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid officially appointed the leader of the centre-left Centre Party Juri Ratas as the country’s prime minister on April 24.



After US Sanctions, Venezuela Seeks to Collect Some Oil Payments via Rosneft
Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA has asked at least two of its clients to make payments for Venezuelan oil via Russian state energy giant Rosneft, as it comes under pressure from U.S. sanctions.

It’s Time to Rethink Russia’s Foreign Policy Strategy
A broad public discussion on Moscow’s foreign policy goals and objectives is long overdue.

Eurasia’s Burgeoning Population to Take Over a Vanishing Population in Eastern Europe
Half a dozen countries in Central, Eastern and Southeast Europe is set to lose two out of five of its citizens by the end of this century and a few counties will lose half their population.

Putin, Dozens of Other Leaders Gather in China for “Belt and Road” Summit
Leaders from dozens of countries arrived in Beijing to attend the April 25-27 Belt and Road Forum.

Putin, Netanyahu Break Ground on Deeper Russia-Israel Engagement
The Israeli prime minister and the Russian president seemed to be on the same page on Syria and committed to closer ties during talks in Moscow.



Eye on America, China-Russia Flex Naval Muscles
China and Russia are mounting a joint counter to US supremacy over Asia’s waterways, though bilateral grudges and suspicions endure.

Russia’s Effective Military Spending is Around $200 Billion
When you take into account everything costs less in Russia the nominal $65 billion budget buys three times the military power it would in the U.S.

Did Russia Just Concede a Need to Regulate Military AI?
After years of Kremlin efforts to derail international guidelines on militarized artificial intelligence, a national-security leader appeared to signal a new course.

How Artificial Intelligence Systems Could Threaten Democracy
Even governments in democracies with strong traditions of rule of law find themselves tempted to abuse the new abilities provided by AI.

Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2018
Fact sheet on 2018 military expenditure around the world.


Russia Revamps Arctic Military Base to Stake Claim on Region
Missile launchers ply icy roads and air defense systems point menacingly into the sky at this Arctic military outpost, a key vantage point for Russia to project its power over the resource-rich polar region.

Putin Outlines Ambitious Arctic Expansion Program
President Vladimir Putin put forward an ambitious program to secure Russia’s foothold in the Arctic, including efforts to build new ports and other infrastructure facilities and expand an icebreaker fleet.

Military Drills in Arctic Aim to Counter Russia, But the First Mission is to Battle the Cold.
Moscow is moving to claim Arctic territory as barriers between Russia and North America melt. Yet still bitter temperatures pose an immediate threat to NATO troops defending icy waterways.


In a Rare Speech to Congress, NATO Leader Says Allies Must Deter Moscow
The NATO secretary general gave a strong defense of the 70-year-old military alliance between Europe and the United States, using a high-profile appearance before a joint session of Congress to urge allies to stand up to a more assertive Russia.

Kremlin Says Trump Idea for Deal to Cut Arms Spending Should Be Looked At
The Kremlin said that an idea floated by U.S. President Donald Trump for a deal between the United States, China and Russia to reduce spending on weapons production deserved attention and should be discussed further.

America, You’re Not Listening to US
Russia’s ambassador: We’re ready for urgently needed security dialogue — when our U.S. counterparts are ready to engage in good faith.

Russian Strategic Culture in a Baltic Crisis
A policy brief that addresses how Russian strategic culture operates in the distinct geographic and geopolitical environment of the Baltic region.

2019 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference in Conversation with Rep. Adam Smith
Transcript from the Nuclear Policy Conference held in Washington DC on March 12, 2019.

Our Man in NATO: Why Putin Lucked Out with Recep Erdogan
Russia is on the verge of a resounding victory over NATO and the United States.

US-Russia Chill Stirs Worry About Stumbling into Conflict
The deep chill in U.S.-Russian relations is stirring concern in some quarters that Washington and Moscow are in danger of stumbling into an armed confrontation that, by mistake or miscalculation, could lead to nuclear war.

Russia Has Ceased “All” Cooperation with NATO, Foreign Ministry Official Says
Russia has stopped all cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said in an interview with state media.

Playing Real Risk- Russia vs US
Russia can invade the Baltics and Ukraine to recreate the Soviet Union, but it can’t hold the territory for more than one go.



Ultranationalism in Ukraine- A Photo Essay
The growing presence of far-right groups in Ukraine leaves the west in a quandary.

Bureaucracy and Death Stalk Ukraine’s “Contact Line”
The militarized border between government-controlled territory and Russia-backed separatists has created its own grim reality for those forced to cross.

Tangle of Church and State Roils Ukraine’s Orthodox Parishes
In the West, religious institutions and governments tend not to be closely aligned. But for Ukraine’s Orthodox churches, the relationship is far blurrier. And that is causing heated debates within the country’s parishes.

Kyiv Court Rules Nationalization of PrivatBank was Illegal
A court in Kyiv has ruled that the nationalization of PrivatBank was illegal, clearing the way for its return to former owner oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky.

Russia and Ukraine Fight, But Their People Seek Reconciliation
Thousands have died in five years of war, and a recent poll shows citizens in both countries are ready to move on.

Ukrainian Authorities Say Russian “Terror” Group Thwarted, Seven Arrested
SBU chief Vasyl Hrytsak said agents thwarted “a sabotage and reconnaissance terrorist group of the Russian special services.”

Ukraine Adopts Language Law Opposed by Kremlin
Ukraine’s parliament has adopted a law that will require the use of the Ukrainian language in most aspects of public life, a decision supporters say will strengthen national identity.

Ukraine Parliament Greenlights Ukrainian Language Bill
Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, adopted on April 25 a draft law on the Ukrainian language.

Russia Eases Path to Citizenship for Ukraine’s Donbas
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a special decree simplifying the procedure for obtaining a Russian passport for residents of the rebel-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine.

       -Presidential Election

Ukraine’s President Trying to Hold Off Rival for Runoff Spot
Ukraine’s president was holding off a long-time rival in a bid to claim the other spot in a runoff set for later this month, while a comic actor with no political experience was leading strongly in the election.

Zelenskiy Comfortably Wins First Round of Ukraine’s Presidential Election
Exit polls say that outsider and comic Volodymyr Zelenskiy has won the first round of Ukraine’s presidential election and will face off against incumbent President Petro Poroshenko in the April 21 runoff.

Support for Tymoshenko Hard to Come By in Dnipro, Her Home City
The ex-PM lost the first round of Ukraine’s presidential election. In her home city, more people voted for a comedian.

Pro-Russian Vote in Ukraine’s Presidential Election First Round Revealed as Strong
Volodymyr Zelensky came very close to a face-off with one of the pro-Russian candidates rather than the incumbent President Petro Poroshenko.

Why Ethnopolitics Doesn’t Work in Ukraine
Petro Poroshenko’s electoral failure shows the limits of using ethnonationalism as a political strategy in Ukraine.

Volodymyr Zelensky’s Second Act
Delivering on voter’s demand for change wont’ be easy.

Ukrainian Presidential Front-Runner Zelensky Hires Washington Lobbying Firm to “Elevate Profile”
A Washington lobbying firm has been hired by Ukrainian comedian and presidential front-runner Volodymyr Zelenskiy to burnish his international image and set up meetings between members of his camp and officials in the U.S. capital.

Poroshenko Reinvented: Apologies, New Promises, and Slick Moves May Be “Too Little, Too Late”
Incumbent President Petro Poroshenko attempts to change his campaign tactics on the eve of the second round elections.

About 80% of Knocked Out Candidates’ Supporters Vote for Zelensky
This is a result of Poroshenko’s disastrous campaign in the second round, experts say.

Voter Turnout in 2nd Round of Elections in Ukraine Reaches 61.37%
The voter turnout in the second round of the Ukrainian presidential election on Sunday reached 61.37%, which is less than in the first round of March 31.

How Can Zelensky Bring Peace to the Donbas?
Examination of likely actions new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, may take to end fighting in the Donbas.

Ukraine’s President-Elect Says Being Blocked from Calling Snap Poll

Ukraine’s president-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the election commission was preventing him from calling a snap parliamentary election by delaying the announcement of his election victory.



Data Analyst Says Russia Isn’t a Top Priority for Voters
Washington Post data analyst David Byler claimed that most voters do not consider Russian election interference to be a priority issue.

New Russia Penalties Face “Sanctions Fatigue” in US Congress
Tough talk about the need to punish Russia for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election is running into the reality that Congress’s enthusiasm for additional sanctions is waning.

A US Fighter Jet or a Russian Missile System. Not Both.
If Turkey accepts delivery of a Russian S-400 missile system, sanctions will be required by American law.

Budding July Thaw in Russian-US Ties and Glimmer of Hope in Nagorno-Karabakh
A meeting between Russian and American senators may take place on the sidelines of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in early July.

American and Russian Public Opinion: Where We Are and How We Got Here
Video panel discussing the history and public opinion of the Russo-American relationship.

Alleged Russia Agent Maria Butina Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison on Conspiracy Charge
A federal judge sentenced Russia national Maria Butina to 18 months in prison after she pleaded guilty to trying to infiltrate conservative political circles and promote Russian interests before and after the 2016 presidential election.

About the Author

Morgan Henson

Morgan Henson is a second year dual-degree master’s student at the University of Texas at Austin. He is studying Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies and Global Policy Studies. As a Home and Abroad Scholar, he is focusing on policy issues in Eurasia. The scholarship will help fund his participation in SRAS’s Economic Development in the Russian Far East program at Vladivostok State University of Economics and Services during the Spring 2019 Semester. In his free time, Morgan enjoys watching movies and exploring new locations.