Eurasian Affairs – February 2020

Relations with Belarus were in the spotlight in February. Pictured in Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.

Eurasian Affairs looks at the wide expanse of Eurasia and 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.

 

Global

From Africa to Azerbaijan, here’s how far Russia’s global influence stretches
Russia has been keeping relatively quiet on the global stage of late, particularly as it has issues closer to home to focus on including political reforms and economic revival, but make no mistake about it, the country’s influence across the world is far-reaching and important.

From 2021, you can get a visa to Russia online for only $50 (but not if you’re British, American or Canadian)
Short-term electronic visas will be available for visits across Russia from 1 January 2021, officials have confirmed.

 

Military

U.S. Has Deployed New, Small Nukes On Submarine, According To Group
The U.S. has begun deploying a new type of low-yield nuclear warhead aboard some ballistic missile submarines, according to a report by an independent monitor.

U.S. Military Invests In New Weapon to Defeat Hypersonic Missiles as Russia Upgrades Its Arsenal
The United States has contracted a leading defense manufacturer to develop a new weapon capable of thwarting hypersonic missiles such as those Russia just added to its own growing arsenal of weapons it claims are too fast to be fought.

While The Press And Public Focus On Iran, US Military Prepares For War With Russia
During the height of tensions with Iran last year, the United States conducted an unprecedented series of war games. Over five months, from May until the end of September, 93 separate military exercises were held, with forces operating continuously in, above and around 29 countries.

MDA’s FY21 budget paves way for new homeland missile defense plans
The Missile Defense Agency’s fiscal year 2021 $9.2 billion budget request shows a refocus on developing and deploying a layered homeland ballistic missile defense system.

The Air Force is massively scaling back a major upgrade for the B-2 stealth bomber
After years of delays and technical issues, the Air Force is restructuring a key B-2 modernization program, transforming it from a suite of technologies meant to help the bomber evade Russia and China into a less ambitious cockpit display upgrade.

Navy Confirms Global Strike Hypersonic Weapon Will First Deploy on Virginia Attack Subs
After years of delays and technical issues, the Air Force is restructuring a key B-2 modernization program, transforming it from a suite of technologies meant to help the bomber evade Russia and China into a less ambitious cockpit display upgrade.

China testing hypersonic weapon with intercontinental range, says USNORTHCOM commander
China is testing an intercontinental-range hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), according to written testimony submitted to the US Senate Armed Services Committee on 13 February 2020 by US Air Force General Terrence J O’Shaughnessy, commander of US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

NATO spooked by myth of Russian ‘doctrines’ and RAND sparks Turkey coup talk
Press review by the Russian News agency, InfoRos, issued on February 21.

US staged ‘limited’ nuclear battle against Russia in war game
The Pentagon has briefed about the simulated exchange in a move that could signal readiness to fight and win nuclear conflict.

Russia’s Military Rolls Out New ‘Cruise Missile Killer’ Weapons System
Moscow’s military has received its latest anti-air system and tested its ability to take on incoming aircraft at a time when Russia and the United States were competing for cutting-edge warfighting capabilities.

Russia Says It ‘Will React’ to Massive U.S. Military Move On Its Borders, ‘It’s Unavoidable’
Moscow’s top diplomat has warned his government would take responsive measures to an upcoming, massive U.S. military deployment and U.S.-led exercises across multiple European states bordering Russia.

US to Test SM-3 Block IIA Missile Against ICBM Target By End of 2020
The test will be a first and may introduce an important new capability that’ll be closely watched by Russia and China.

Russia plans to beef up its military air base in Kyrgyzstan
Russia plans to beef up its air base in Kyrgyzstan, adding air defence systems and drones, the RIA news agency reported on Tuesday, February 11, saying the changes were part of a programme to modernise the facility.

        – Nuclear

US to start negotiating with Russia on nuclear arms control soon
The Trump administration will soon start nuclear negotiations with Russia, US national security adviser Robert O’Brien said on February 5th, speaking exactly one year before the last remaining US nuclear arms pact with Moscow is set to expire.

Trump under pressure to renew last nuke treaty with Russia
Supporters of a key arms control treaty between the United States and Russia are raising pressure on the Trump administration to renew the pact after the one-year deadline to do so passed.

Trump Budget Calls for New Nuclear Warheads and 2 Types of Missiles
The president’s spending proposal requests money for a new arms race with Russia and China, and restores nuclear weapons as central to military policy.

Trump flirts with a new nuclear arms race
As advocates and lawmakers warn about the expiration of a key arms-control treaty, the administration appears paralyzed over its approach.

Lawmakers, experts warn of potential arms race as New START Treaty expires in less than a year
The New START Treaty is set to expire Feb. 5, 2021.

Washington rejects Moscow’s idea of lawyers’ meeting on New START
According to the senior Russian diplomat, there is no time left to draft any meaningful agreements before the expiration of New START however strongly the parties concerned may wish to do this.

Central Asia 

Could energy trade be a win-win for Tajik-Uzbek ties?
The neighbors otherwise exchange very little.

Chinese business briefing: Yuan welcome, but flights cancelled
January was supposed to be the month when Chinese citizens would be welcomed into Central Asia’s largest states like never before. Instead, the Central Asian republics are tightening entry restrictions in attempts to keep out the coronavirus, which was first identified in Wuhan in early January.

Draft Turkmen bill on reforming parliament may pave way for presidential succession
Turkmenistan published a draft bill on constitutional amendments on February 24 that seeks to turn the single chamber of the ex-Soviet country’s parliament into a two-chamber institution and place the head of the upper house as second-in-line for the presidency.

Uzbekistan Repatriates Dozens More As Central Asia Frets Over Coronavirus
Uzbekistan Airways has returned 84 Uzbek nationals from the Chinese city of Wuhan, amid rising fears among Central Asian nations over the possible spread of the deadly coronavirus from its giant neighbor.

 

China

Russia’s Anti-Coronavirus Measures Irk China
China is protesting some of Russia’s anti-coronavirus measures, accusing Moscow city authorities of discriminating against its citizens and warning that relations between the two usually friendly countries could suffer as a result.

 

Europe 

        – Belarus

Belarus emerges as Europe’s leading high tech hub
Best known as “Europe’s last dictatorship”, Belarus has a secret. Over the last decade it has grown a blossoming high tech industry that earned the small northern republic nearly $15bn last year – as much as Russia earns from arms exports.

Belarus To Buy Russian Oil At ‘Global Market’ Prices
Revenues from refined Belarusian oil products sold to European markets have long been a major economic driver for the country, which has a highly centralized economy with the exception of a few sectors.

        – Ukraine

Ukraine’s bank sector profit triples in 2019 as the sector gets on the path to sustained recovery
Ukraine’s banks were earning almost three times a month as much in 2019 as they were earning in 2018.

Azerbaijan ambassador pledges to increase investments in Ukraine ‘up to $1.5bn-$2bn’ in 2020
Azerbaijan is going to increase investments in Ukraine ten-fold to $1.5bn-$2bn in 2020, Baku’s ambassador to Kyiv Azer Khudiyev told news agency Ukrinform this week that if the investments go ahead will almost double the level of FDI going into Ukraine in 2020.

Ukraine opens probe against Biden over “pressure” on ex-prosecutor general
Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation has launched a proceeding into a U.S. citizen in connection with the alleged pressure on ex-prosecutor general of Ukraine Viktor Shokin.

Nearly half of Ukrainians want government reset
As many as 47% of Ukrainians have a positive and 24% a negative attitude toward President Volodymyr Zelensky, as seen from the findings of a public opinion poll conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS).

        – Poland

EU proposes slashing Poland’s coal transition money to €1bn
Poland’s share in the EU’s just transition project – a plan to help the bloc end the use of coal as a source of energy – should be cut in half to €1bn unless Warsaw signs up to the 2050 climate neutrality goal, President of the European Council Charles Michel proposed on February 17.

Poland’s Museums Are Taking a Radically Conservative Turn—and the Fight Over Who Gets to Control Them Is Only Beginning
The appointment of conservative firebrand Piotr Bernatowicz is at the center of a growing battle over the future of Poland’s museums.

 

Arctic

The race for Arctic oil is heating up
Norwegian and Russian companies are leading the charge in a renewed offensive for Arctic oil and gas riches.

 

US

Russian Energy Exports to U.S. Set 8-Year Record in October
Russia exported 20.9 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products to the U.S. in October 2019, the highest one-month total since November 2011.

Trump Proposes 25 Percent Drop in Fund Designed to Deter Russia
The president’s skepticism of the European Deterrence Initiative has prompted widespread criticism in the past and formed part of the argument for his impeachment.

Strange Russian Spacecraft Shadowing U.S. Spy Satellite
A pair of Russian satellites are tailing a multibillion-dollar U.S. spy satellite hundreds of miles above the Earth’s surface, a top U.S. military commander tells TIME, underscoring a growing threat to America’s dominance in space-based espionage and a potentially costly new chapter in Washington’s decades-long competition with Moscow.

US Treasury Department accuses Russian tycoon Deripaska of laundering money but offers no evidence
The US Treasury Department (USTD) has justified sanctions on companies belonging to Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska on hearsay and news reports as well as erroneous information, according to a letter provided to the Russian businessman’s lawyers, a copy of which has been obtained by bne IntelliNews.

Russia’s Lavrov, after Pompeo meeting, says felt more constructive U.S. approach
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on February 17 after meeting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that he had felt a more constructive approach from Washington when it came to the U.S.-Russia strategic dialogue.

Ending Putin’s Support of Venezuela No Easy Feat for US
Trump’s administration is not happy with the blossoming alliance of Russia and Venezuela.

Crisis at UN grows over non-issuance of US visas to Russian delegates
Since the start of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, more than 20 Russian delegates have not been issued US visas.

US intelligence briefer appears to have overstated assessment of 2020 Russian interference
The US intelligence community’s top election security official appears to have overstated the intelligence community’s formal assessment of Russian interference in the 2020 election, omitting important nuance during a briefing with lawmakers earlier this month, three national security officials told CNN.

Russia’s relations with the West are not about to get any better
US-Russian relations continue to deteriorate and the expectations on both sides are extremely low.

U.S., European Diplomats In Moscow Mark Fifth Anniversary Of Nemtsov’s Killing
Foreign diplomats have laid flowers on the Moscow bridge where Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was fatally gunned down five years ago.

US should buy control of Nokia, Ericsson to fight Huawei
The United States and its allies should take controlling stakes in Nokia, Ericsson or both to battle Chinese telecoms giant Huawei’s dominance of the 5G market, US Attorney general Bill Barr said February 6.

About the Author

Alex Sitnikov

Alex holds a BA in Teaching Russian as a Foreign Language (RFL) and is currently on his way to get an MA in Translation. He came to Moscow from Tolyatti to study at Lomonosov Moscow State University in 2013 and has been in love with the city ever since. In March 2018 Alex joined SRAS to help coordinate student activities in Moscow. When he’s not occupied with that, Alex likes to play guitar and read.