Eurasian Affairs – March 2019

(From left to right) Petro Poroshenko, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and Yulia Tymoshenko are the current frontrunners in the Ukrainian Presidential Election. Source:

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.


Russia’s Global Ambitions in Perspective
Russia’s long-standing quest for strategic depth, great power ambitions, and uneasy ties with the West have left an indelible imprint on Moscow’s foreign policy.

Putin Warns that Foreign Spy Agencies are Beefing Up Activities in Russia
Russian special services uncovered 129 staff members and 465 agents of foreign intelligence agencies 2018.

Global Development Disrupted: Findings From a Survey of 93 Leaders
A survey of 93 leaders reveals a global development sector in transition and perhaps even turmoil.



Russia’s Strategy in Southeast Asia
Russian grand strategy in Southeast Asia following the third ASEAN-Russia Summit in Sochi.

Kremlin Abandons Plans to Hand Islands to Japan
The Kremlin has reversed course in its negotiations to cede control of the disputed Kuril Islands to Japan.


Caucasus & Central Asia

Azerbaijan Remains Georgia’s Top Investor
Azerbaijan invested $240 million in Georgia in 2018, remaining the top investor in the country, Georgia`s National Statistics Service said.

Imitation Game- The Theatre and Risks of the Karabakh Peace Process
After the democratic revolution in Armenia and the peaceful transition of power to the current government of Nikol Pashinian, regional experts and international observers have expressed cautious optimism about the prospects for progress in Karabakh peace talks.

Putin Views Russia’s Military Base in Kyrgyzstan as Stability Factor for Central Asia
The presence of the Russian military in Kyrgyzstan makes a considerable contribution to strengthening the republic’s defense capability and ensuring security in Central Asia.

    – Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan: The Man Who Will be President
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, 65, became Kazakhstan’s new president following Nazarbayev’s resignation.

President Nazarbayev’s Resignation
Although the exact timing was unpredicted, President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s resignation prior to the 2020 elections was not unexpected.

Kazakhstan at the Crossroads
Political instability could open the door for either Beijing or Moscow to expand their influence in Astana.

President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, Resigns After Three Decades
Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev unexpectedly resigned after three decades in power

Kazakhstan’s President to Step Down After 30 Years in Power
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the only leader that independent Kazakhstan has ever known, abruptly announced his resignation after three decades in power.

     – Uzbekistan

US Charges Daughter of Late Uzbek President with Bribery, Corruption
The United States has for the first time named Gulnara Karimova, the elder daughter of the late president of Uzbekistan, in a major international bribery scheme, charging her with conspiracy to violate U.S. foreign-corruption laws.

US Ban on Uzbek Cotton Imports Lifted as Child Labour Concerns Ease
Uzbekistan is celebrating a US decision to lift a market ban on Uzbek cotton and products made with Uzbek cotton that was imposed due to concerns over child labour.



EU Ambassadors Approve Sanctions on Eight More Russians Over Kerch Strait Incident
EU ambassadors have agreed to impose asset freezes and visa bans on eight Russians involved in the capture and jailing of 24 Ukrainian seamen in an incident near the Kerch Strait in November.

Russia-EU Trade Turnover Up 20% in 2018
The volume of accumulated investments from the EU countries to Russia amounted to 300 billion euros last year.

Nearly All the Countries of Eastern Europe Made Progress in Improving the Rule of Law
Nearly all the counties of Eastern Europe and Central Asia made progress but all are ranked in the middle of the global field on most factors.

Estonia: Nationalist Party to Launch Attack on Estonia’s Political Status Quo
Thousands of supporters of the far-right, nationalist EKRE party held a torchlight march on February 24.

Estonia: Reform Party Wins Election, Nationalist EKRE Makes Huge Gains
The liberal Eesti Reformierakond (Reform Party) won the Estonian election on March 3.

Belarus: Lukashenka Says Belarus Must Balance Policies Between East, West
Belarusian Presiden Aleksandr Lukashenka has said that his country “must overcome the cold” of a “standoff” between Russia and the European Union.



Russia’s Pistol-Packing Robot is Scrambling for Parts
The program’s foreign suppliers stopped shipping components after gunfire videos went viral.

US Cyberattacks May Be Doing Putin a Favor
A strike on a troll farm will help the Kremlin sell the need for a firewall that restricts Russians’ access to the internet.

If War Comes, Russia Could Disconnect from the Internet. Yes, the Entire Country
Robust internal networks will keep the military and government operating, says Putin’s top IT advisor.

Russia Beefs Up its Force Grouping in Crimea, Defense Chief Says
The force grouping in Crimea has been reinforced.

Russia Tightens Control Over Northern Sea Route
The Kremlin has formulated new limitations for foreign warships transiting the Northern Sea Route (NSR), the Arctic route connecting the Kola Peninsula with the Bering Strait.

2020 Budget Request Reveals Slow Shift Toward Great Power War
It will take some years before various futuristic weapons even begin to arrive.

Russia Says It’s Arming Its Warships with a New Weapon that Makes Enemies Want to Vomit
The Russian navy is apparently outfitting its warships with a new naval weapon designed to blind and confuse enemies.

We Need a NATO/EU for Cyber Defense
The world’s democracies aren’t properly organized to fend off today’s authoritarian attacks, let alone reshape the internet and key industries to stop tomorrow’s.

Russian Troops, Advisers Arrive in Venezuela
Russia sent two planes with dozens of soldiers and military advisers to Venezuela’s capital of Caracas amid growing tensions in the South American country

What to Make of General Gerasimov’s Latest ‘Doctrine’
Russia provided its first theoretical justification for operations in remote military theaters.


Russia Says US is Hiding Nuclear Weapons: ‘That is a Serious Problem’
Russia has accused the United States of quietly reclassifying nuclear weapons systems in a potential bid to hide the true scale of its strategic arsenal, which is limited by a treaty between the two leading powers.

Are the Rules Which Have Stopped Nuclear War Broken?
“We are moving in a minefield, and we don’t know from where the explosion will come.”

Russia’s Top Diplomat Urges West to Resume Joint Arms Control Effort
Russia is calling on the United States and other Western countries to resume joint efforts in the arms control sphere.

Vladimir Putin’s So-Called Missile with Unlimited Range is Too Expensive for the Kremlin- and Has Yet to Fly Farther than 22 Miles
President Vladimir Putin bragged a year ago that his country had a new nuclear-powered missile with unlimited range, but the Kremlin will only produce a few of them.

Pentagon Planning to Test Long-Banned Missiles After INF Pullout
The Pentagon plans this summer to test a ground-launched cruise missile of the type that has been banned for three decades by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Russia Will Deploy New Missiles to Defend Arctic, Admiral Says
The Russian military plans to bolster its positions in the Arctic with additional air defense systems as it flexes its muscle in the hydrocarbon-rich region.



Ukraine Government Seeks to Dismiss Head of State-Owned Natural Gas Monopoly
A fight for control of Ukraine’s national gas company Naftogaz has broken out as the government moves to oust the current CEO Andriy Kobolev.

Poroshenko Ambushed over Defense Sector Corruption
Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko implicated in military arms deals scandal through his long time partner Oleh Hladkovskiy.

More than Half of Ukraine’s Population View Russia in Positive Light
The number of Ukrainians that positively or very positively view Russia increased by 9% in February, up to 57%.

Ukraine Has to Climb a Debt Mountain
Participation in Ukrainian local debt auctions could rise between 15% and 30% this year, accounting for an extra $2bn-$6bn in capital.

World-Low 9% of Ukrainians Confident in Government
In the lead-up to the presidential election on March 31, Ukrainians go to the polls with less faith in their government than is true for any other electorate in the world.

Ukrainian Workers, Seeing Little Hope at Home, Head Abroad
Unable to support his wife and three children as a driver at home in Ukraine, ex-soldier Andriy Lytvynenko recently left for the better pay offered in neighboring Poland.

       Presidential Elections

Ukraine’s Presidential Candidate Zelenskiy Implicated in PrivatBank Scam
Outsider and comic Volodymyr Zelenskiy has been implicated in a scam to steal money from PrivateBank that belonged to oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky.

Ukraine Candidate Urges Talks to End Conflict in East
A comedian leading Ukraine’s presidential race says the country needs to negotiate with Russia to put an end to fighting in the east.

Nearly 85% of Ukrainians Plan to Vote in Presidential Election, Says Survey
The Ukrainian presidential election is planned for March 31, 2019.

Deputized as Election Monitors, Ukrainian Ultranationalists “Ready to Punch” Violaters
Members of the ultranationalist National Militia were granted permission by the Central Election Commission to officially monitor Ukraine’s presidential election on March 31.

For Kremlin, Ukrainian Election a Choice Between Lesser of Three Evils
As Ukraine readies to elect a new leader, none of the main candidates look that enticing to Russia.

Ukraine’s Election Wildcard Assembles a Team to Match His Ambition
The surprise leader in polls before March’s presidential election in Ukraine is surrounding himself with a team that could help him achieve what only a matter of weeks ago had been seen as an unlikely triumph.

Zelenskiy Would Win in Second Round of Election
Entertainer Volodymyr Zelenskiy would defeat incumbent Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in the second round of the presidential election in the country.

Incumbent Ukrainian President Leads Disapproval Ratings
Nearly half of Ukrainian voters would not case their ballots in favor of incumbent president Pyotr Poroshenko no matter what, the Rating sociological group said.

Zelenskiy Projected to Beat Any Opponent in 2nd Round of Ukrainian Presidential Election
Ukrainian entertainer and presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to win in a second round of presidential elections no matter which of the other candidates he faces.

“Dirtiest” Race Ever Drags Ukrainian Election into Perilous Waters
The gloves are well and truly off in Ukraine’s presidential election.

Presidential Hopeful Speaks in Support of Russian Language in Ukraine
Ukraine’s presidential hopeful, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has spoken in favor of a free use of the Russian language.

Ukraine’s 2019 Election: The End of Ideology and the Last Comedian
The frontrunner in the Ukrainian presidential campaign is someone who has never held a government position and has no record of political or civic activism.

Unpopular Russia Still Looms Large Over Ukraine Elections
The level of anti-Russia rhetoric from most of the candidates in Ukraine’s election this weekend would have been unthinkable a decade ago.

Ukraine Election
Statistics surrounding the candidates, polls, and main issues of the upcoming Ukrainian Election.

What’s at Stake in Ukraine’s Presidential Election
Awash in corruption, plagued by a war with Russia-backed separatists, reliant on international institutions for billions of dollars in aid, Ukraine presents stern challenges for its next president.



Majority of Americans Now Consider Russia a Critical Threat
Russia’s already negative image among Americans only worsened over the past year, with a majority for the first time saying that Russia’s military power poses a threat to US vital interests.

Two American Mormons Detained in Russia, Will be Deported
Two US Mormons detained in Russia for violating immigration law and reportedly charged with teaching English without a license are set to be deported from Russia.

Gallup Poll: US Global Approval Rating Plunges but Americans Believe the Opposite
The plunge in the global rating of America’s leadership could reasonably cause a person to expect a decline in the American public’s view of America’s national image in foreign countries, but it’s not showing up, at all, but the exact contrary is being displayed in the recent data.

Pompeo Defends Trump Budget: Says 23 Percent Cut Won’t Hurt State Department’s “Swagger”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that $13 billion in proposed budget cuts for his agency won’t hurt America’s “swagger” abroad.

Pence Asked Merkel to Provoke Russia by Sending Warships to Crimea
The US leaned on German Chancellor Angela Merkel last month to conduct a naval maneuver in Russia’s backyard aimed at provoking President Vladimir Putin.

Guess Who’s Hurt by U.S. Sanctions? Russia’s Gun Makers
U.S. sanctions against Russia have claimed an unlikely victim: Russia’s gun and ammo industries.

US Could Beat Russia’s Oil Export Numbers by 2024
The US could beat Russia’s oil exports numbers by 2024 and become the world’s second largest exporter of oil behind the Saudi Arabia.

Kremlin Shrugs Off Possible US Boycott of Forum Over Investor’s Arrest
The Kremlin on Tuesday shrugged off talk of a possible boycott by U.S. companies of Russia’s showcase International Economic Forum over the arrest of prominent U.S. investor Michael Calvey.

Kremlin Points to US Missile-Testing Plans as Proof Washington Sought INF Breakdown
The United States used systems that “de facto were in violation of the basic provisions of the INF Treaty”, Peskov stressed.

Trump Administration Proposes $86 Billion Spy Budget to Take on Russia and China
American intelligence spending could rise to nearly $86 billion, a 6 percent increase that reflects the Trump administration’s proposed boost in defense and national security spending.

US Investor Jailed by Russia Tells Washington to Keep Distance
A prominent U.S. investor being held in Russia on embezzlement charges has asked U.S. diplomats not to defend him.

Russia Savors Mueller’s Report But Expects Tensions to Stay
Russia savored an “I told you so” moment Monday after special counsel Robert Mueller found no collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Moscow.

Russia-US Trade Turnover Hit $25 Billion & Rising Despite Sanctions
Washington’s sanctions against Moscow have not stopped bilateral trade from steadily growing over the past two years and it stood at $25 billion in 2018.

Trump Tells Russia to Get Its Troops Out of Venezuela
U.S. President Donald Trump called on Russia to pull its troops from Venezuela and said that “all options” were open to make that happen.

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.