Eurasian Affairs – August 2019

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.


Central Asia

Georgia in vino vertitas
The Georgians like to describe themselves as the “cradle of wine” with a rich, 8,000-year history of wine-making.

Pashinyan calls for unification between Armenia and Karabakh
The unprecedentedly hardline rhetoric comes amid fitful efforts by Armenia and Azerbaijan to peacefully resolve their conflict over Karabakh.

Tajikistan embarks on new search for Roghun funds
A couple of years ago, Uzbekistan was the project’s main impediment. Now it’s money.

Uzbekistan: A private sector affair
Credit and access to hard currency are no longer problems. But the lack of experienced technicians has forced businesses to scope out other ways of bringing staff up to scratch.

The young spokespeople saving Kyrgyzstan’s capital one photo at a time
Social media platforms make it far simpler for the public to keep officials informed about their gripes.

CARNAGE IN KYRGYZSTAN: Special forces raid fails to grab ex-president Atambayev from his compound
Kyrgyz security and law enforcement forces withdrew from the residence of former president Almazbek Atambayev early on August 8 following an unsuccessful attempt to arrest him in a special forces raid that left one serviceman dead and 45 people hospitalised with injuries.

Landlocked Tajikistan pursues trade shipment access to Iran’s only oceanic port
Landlocked Tajikistan wants trade shipment access to Iran’s only oceanic port, the free port of Chabahar on the Sea of Oman.

Dozens of Chinese nationals were injured in fighting.
Dozens of Chinese nationals were injured in fighting.

In Georgian politics, it’s millionaire vs billionaire
Has Georgia’s powerful leader met his political match in another financial titan?

Reports of Turkmen president’s death prove greatly exaggerated
So the story that Turkmen officials are covering up the death of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov is as dead as a dodo.

From Hero To Zero: Kyrgyz Deputy Minister Who Detained Atambaev Fired For Betrayal
Kyrgyz Deputy Interior Minister Kursan Asanov, who personally negotiated former President Almazbek Atambaev’s surrender last week after two days of deadly resistance, has been fired for allegedly “betraying the interests of the Kyrgyz police and losing confidence.”

Central Asian currencies sliding: What’s happening?
The Tajik somoni is sinking, the Uzbek sum is free-floating.

Uzbekistan claims investment bonanza
Investments amounted to 38 percent of GDP so far this year, the president said.

Uzbekistan: Utilities prices to go up as lure to investors
Officials insist the rates will still be relatively low in regional terms.

Russia, Iran, others debate how to split Caspian oil riches
Five countries bordering the energy-rich Caspian Sea met Monday at an economic forum hosted by Turkmenistan in a bid to agree on how to divide the region’s oil wealth.

Following revolution, Armenia becomes more attractive to diaspora
Ethnic Armenians from Russia, Lebanon, and Iran have led the movement, seeing opportunities in Armenia that they don’t have in their birth countries.

Chinese gold miner suspends Kyrgyzstan operations after dozens injured in brawl with locals
Chinese company Zhong Ji Mining has suspended its operations at Solton-Sary gold mine in the east of Kyrgyzstan following clashes between local residents and company workers on August 5.


Middle East

Russia, Turkey agree steps to tackle militants in Syria’s Idlib: Putin
President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia and Turkey had agreed steps to tackle militants in northwest Syria and “normalize” the situation there after a Syrian army offensive encircled rebel fighters and a Turkish military post.



The Bizarre, Peaty Science of Arctic Wildfires
Peat is the organic material that gives Scotch its characteristic taste. But it’s also a potent fuel that’s powering unprecedented Arctic wildfires.

CAMS monitors unprecedented wildfires in the Arctic
Over the last six weeks, the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) has tracked over 100 intense and long-lived wildfires in the Arctic Circle.

Russia Delivers Weapons to New Arctic Garrison
As Russia’s Northern Fleet strives to complete its newest Arctic base on the coast of the remote Laptev Sea, construction works have been progressing at a hectic pace.



Belarus’ export of computer services up 21% in 1H19
Belarus’ export of computer services, telecommunication services and information services rose by 21% in the first half of 2019 in comparison with the same period of last year according to preliminary data, BelTA reported citing the Belarusian Communications and Information Ministry.

Moldova’s fragile coalition put to the test by fiscal tightening agreed with IMF
Moldova’s presidency has harshly criticised the government of Prime Minister Maia Sandu — which is backed by President Igor Dodon’s Socialist Party — for resuming agreements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and accepting provisions “that would impede further development of the country”.

Turning Point in Poland as Political Leaders March in Pride Event
It’s been a year of pride, prominence, and violent pushback for LGBTQ Poles this year.

The rubbish local politics in emerging Europe
After nearly three decades of transition the peoples of emerging Europe are starting to mature politically and hold their governments to account.



The United States and Uzbekistan: Military-to-Military Relations in a New Era of Strategic Partnership
The 2016 change of power in Uzbekistan to President Shavkat Mirziyoyev prompted the deepening of cooperation between Washington and Tashkent.

Hypersonics by the dozens: US industry faces manufacturing challenge
The U.S. military is a few years from launching offensive hypersonic weapons that are currently under development.

Russia’s military drone makes successful maiden flight
The Russian military says a heavy drone it’s developing has made a successful maiden flight.

Russia pays tribute to dead nuclear workers, vows to develop new weapons
Russia’s top nuclear official promised on Monday to succeed in developing new weapons as he paid tribute to five scientists killed in what U.S. experts suspect was the botched test of a new missile vaunted by President Vladimir Putin.

Amid Iran crisis, U.S. offers big military aid boost to Azerbaijan
The Pentagon program would give more than $100 million to help Baku improve its maritime security against threats from Tehran.

Pentagon ‘very carefully’ watching China, it’s ‘No. 1 priority.’
China is the Pentagon’s “number one priority,” and the United States is watching Beijing “very carefully” in order to safeguard America, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Fox News in an exclusive interview Wednesday.

‘Are we going to buy this one?’: After the US kicked Turkey out of the F-35 program, Erdogan jokes about buying Russia’s advanced Su-57 fighter
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir underscored the close links between their countries at the opening of a major Russian air show on Tuesday.

– Cyber

Following revolution, Armenia becomes more attractive to diaspora
Ethnic Armenians from Russia, Lebanon, and Iran have led the movement, seeing opportunities in Armenia that they don’t have in their birth countries.

Corporate IoT – a path to intrusion
Several sources estimate that by the year 2020 some 50 billion IoT devices will be deployed worldwide.

Army Deploys ‘Social Media Warfare’ Division To Fight Russia
The U.K.’s new special cyber operations unit, 6 Division (6 Div), will move beyond the typical cyber capabilities within the military sphere into full-blown social media “information warfare.”

– Nuclear

Bringing Russia’s New Nuclear Weapons Into New START
The last treaty that limits the United States’s and Russia’s nuclear weapons, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), will expire in February 2021 unless both states agree to its extension.

Russia, China seek U.N. Security Council meeting on U.S. missile developments
Russia and China have asked the United Nations Security Council to meet on Thursday over “statements by U.S. officials on their plans to develop and deploy medium-range missiles.”

Putin orders Russia to respond after US missile test
President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military on Friday to work out a quid pro quo response after the test of a new U.S. missile banned under a now-defunct arms treaty.

The US Just Launched a Long-Outlawed Missile. Welcome to the Post-INF World
Sunday’s test sent a ground-launched missile more than 500 kilometers, a test that would have been illegal last month.

Russia to nuclear test ban monitor: Test accident not your business
Russia told an agency that verifies a ban on nuclear tests that a military test accident in the country’s north this month was none of its business and that handing it any radiation data was voluntary.

Russia, China accuse U.S. of stoking tensions with missile test
Russia and China accused the United States on Tuesday of stoking military tensions by testing a ground-launched cruise missile, but the foreign ministry in Moscow said it would not be drawn into an arms race.



Ze Academy: Ukraine lawmakers’ first assignment is a crash course in politics
Volodymyr Zelensky’s record-breaking 254 MPs have been sent to school ahead of entering parliament for the first time

Ukraine Turns to Blueprint That Transformed Ex-Communist Europe
As some of the European Union‘s eastern members embrace more state-led economic models, Ukraine is turning to the playbook that helped rebuild the continent’s ex-communist wing back in the 1990s.

Kyiv Mayor Klitschko, President Zelenskiy Battle Over City Management Rights
Mayor Vitali Klitschko is on a collision course with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy over his executive powers as the head of the city state administration, the national-level branch of Ukraine’s government that administers the capital.

Washington Lobbying Firm That Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Denied Hiring Reports $70,000 Worth Of Work For Him
The presidential campaign of Volodymyr Zelenskiy denied hiring a Washington lobbying firm to burnish his image in the U.S. capital, but one such firm recently reported being paid nearly $70,000 to do just that for the team of the newly elected Ukrainian president.

Zelenskiy’s Economic Team Head Wants New IMF Loan, To Lift Farmland Sale Ban
Ukraine wants a new, longer-term International Monetary Fund (IMF) program with an emphasis on attracting foreign investment, selling state-owned assets, and lifting the ban on the sale of farmland.

Ukraine has no plans to remove ban on Russian social media
Kiev will maintain its ban on Russian social media, Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Nikita Poturayev told Radio Svoboda.

Ukraine’s fruit and berry exports expected to boom this year
Ukraine’s fruit and berry production is flourishing and exports are expected to boom this year.

Zelenskiy’s party won control of parliament, but now he has to control his party
Servant of the People (SOTP) stomped to victory in the parliamentary elections taking a landslide 43.14% of the votes to win an absolute majority – for the first time ever in Ukraine’s modern history.

Trump may get involved in Donbas negotiations
US President Donald Trump could take part in talks to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine, said US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker in an interview with The Ukrainian Week (Tyzhden).

Ukraine’s Government Backs Away From Fight With Kyiv Mayor Klitschko
Ukraine’s government says it will not seek to take away part of Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko’s executive powers, at least for now.

Ukrainian Ex-President Questioned In Tax-Evasion Case
Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has been questioned as a witness by the State Bureau for Investigations (DBR) in a tax-evasion case.

Enigmatic Attorney Says He Hired D.C. Lobbyists For Zelenskiy ‘Out Of Good Will’ — And Out Of His Own Pocket
The enigmatic American attorney who hired a Washington lobbying firm to elevate the profile of Ukraine’s newly elected president during his campaign has broken his silence, telling RFE/RL in an exclusive interview that he paid nearly $70,000 for the work out of his own pocket – and out of good will toward Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Comic Or Commander In Chief? Reform Of Ukrainian Defense Industry Giant Tests Zelenskiy’s Will
When a Ukrainian media outlet reported in February that people close to then-President Petro Poroshenko were involved in skimming money from the military, it blew the tires off his slowing campaign machine just weeks before his reelection bid.

Mission: Impossible? Ukraine’s New President Ventures To Reform Powerful State Spy Agency
When Ukraine’s domestic security service revealed last year that it had faked the death of a dissident Russian journalist to expose a team of hit men allegedly hired by Moscow to destabilize the country by assassinating high-profile figures in Kyiv, it expected to take victory lap.

In eastern Ukraine, a broad desire for peace. But whose peace?
Almost every conversation in Ukraine these days will touch upon the grinding, seemingly endless war in the eastern region of Donbass.



Huntsman to Step Down as U.S. Ambassador to Russia in October
Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, said he’ll resign later this year, a move that risks leaving open a key diplomatic post as tensions between the two countries continue to deteriorate.

Easing in U.S.-Russia Ties Seen in Move on Moscow School Visas
Russia has softened its refusal to issue visas for teachers at a Moscow school run by the U.S., British and Canadian embassies amid signs of a slight thaw in tensions between the Kremlin and Washington.

Trump offers Putin help with Siberian wildfires
U.S. President Donald Trump offered his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin help in putting out vast wildfires that are raging in Siberia, the Kremlin said late on Wednesday, a move it said Putin took as a sign that battered ties can be restored.

Trump Adds to Sanctions on Russia Over Skripals
President Trump on Thursday signed an executive order imposing new sanctions on Russia, responding to growing pressure from Congress to further punish Moscow after a nerve agent attack last year against a former Russian spy in Britain.

The U.S. Might Sanction a Russian Pipeline to Germany. That’s a Terrible Idea.
The House and Senate are considering legislation to impose sanctions on companies involved in building the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

Which country is the biggest FDI investor into Russia? It’s Cyprus… Not.
Which country is the biggest investor into Russia? It’s Cyprus. At least that is according to the official figures from the Central Bank of Russia (CBR). But of course it isn’t really.

Trump considering North Korea envoy as next ambassador to Russia
Stephen Biegun, the diplomat who has been leading efforts to revive stalled U.S. denuclearization talks with North Korea, is under consideration to be President Donald Trump’s next ambassador to Russia

Russia’s Latest Sanctions A Year In The Making But Surprise Everyone
Just when everyone thought the political risk has come off of the Russian securities market, bam! Washington hits Russia with a left hook.

Impact of Sanctions on Russia’s GDP Less Severe Than Low Oil Prices
The fall in oil prices cost the country on average $48.75 billion in lost economic growth per year.

Exploring the Implications of the Second Round of ‘Chemical Sanctions
On August 1, US President Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13883 “Administration of Proliferation Sanctions and Amendment of Executive Order 12851.”

Russia Summons U.S. Embassy Official Over Publishing Of Moscow Rally Map
Russia has summoned a senior U.S. diplomat after accusing the State Department of meddling in the country’s internal affairs by publishing a map on social media showing the proposed route of an opposition protest in the Russian capital on August 3.

About the Author

Tanya Tanyarattinan

Tanya Tanyarattinan is a third-year, Thai international student at the University of Denver, double majoring in International Studies and Economics with minors in Russian and Japanese. She is currently studying Society, Business, and the Arts in St Petersburg with SRAS’s Home and Abroad Scholarship. With an interest in pursuing a career in politics, she travels to see how the world works from different perspectives. Her next stop is Berlin where she will complete her study abroad year. In her free time, she likes to play games and try new food.