Eurasian Affairs – November 2019

"I am very happy that we have another opportunity to meet again in Brasilia," said President of China Xi Jinping (retranslated) to Vladimir Putin while meeting on the sidelines at the BRICS summit in Brasilia on November 13, 2019.

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

Central Europe shrugs off Western Europe’s slowdown
Central Europe is coming out of a five-year-long boom, but the economies of the region are still healthy and what has surprised economists is that the region has managed to shrug off the dramatic slowdown that has gripped Western Europe.

30 years of transition: A profound crisis of trust in democracy
30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, former communist states suffer from a profound crisis of trust in democracy with liberal values that have ousted communism now under threat from rising populism, while distrust of major institutions is growing.

Lithuania, Norway swap spies with Russia at border
Russia on Friday returned two Lithuanians and a Norwegian convicted of espionage to Vilnius while NATO and EU member Lithuania freed two Russians jailed for spying in an exchange reminiscent of the Cold War.

IMF predicts sluggish growth for 2020 in Eurasia
The IMF’s 2020 forecast sees economic growth slowing slightly in Central Asia and the South Caucasus.

Will the US shoot down Open Skies and Russia eyeing third base in Syria
Top stories in the Russian press on Monday, November 11

30 Years Ago Eastern Europeans Tore Down Walls. Now They Write Pop Songs to Putin.
How crony capitalism and crippling austerity turned democracy into a dirty word.

US to Europe: Fix Open Skies Treaty or we quit
NATO allies worried U.S. President Donald Trump will abandon the Open Skies Treaty have been told the administration views the arms control agreement as a danger to U.S. national security, and that unless those nations can assuage such concerns, the U.S. will likely pull out, Defense News has learned.

 

Military

Russia Says It Used Autonomous Armed Strike Drones in a Wargame
But some observers have questions about the claim.

Russia’s 1st two Avangard hypersonic missile systems to assume combat duty
Work is underway to prepare and place the missiles into silos, according to the source.

Putin Explains Why Russia Can Afford to Spend Less on Defence
Russia is one of just a handful of major military powers to actually make cuts to its defence spending in recent years, and recently dropped out of the top five countries in terms of total spending.

How Cozy Is Russia and China’s Military Relationship?
Russia and China’s strategic military cooperation is becoming ever closer. President Putin has announced that Russia is helping China build an early warning system to spot intercontinental ballistic missile launches.

     – Nuclear

Russian foreign minister lambasts US over arms control
Russia’s foreign minister said Friday that the world is becoming increasingly unstable because the U.S. doesn’t want to abide by arms control regimes.

China has no plans to join Russia-US disarmament talks
At the same time, China is neither refraining from meeting its commitments nor from responsibility.

The United States’ Nuclear and Non-Nuclear Weapons Are Dangerously Entangled
New evidence from the Yom Kippur War shows how such knots can lead to nuclear annihilation.

Russia’s intelligence chief predicts New START to have same plight as INF Treaty
The top brass believes that the treaty will cease to exist in February 2021

NATO Shows Off Missile Base In Romania, Calling It ‘Purely Defensive’
NATO’s land-based missile defense system in southern Romania has been a bone of contention between the alliance and Russia since it began operations at the start of 2016.

Russia Shows Off Hypersonic Nuclear Missile to U.S. Inspectors
Russia said it has showed its new hypersonic nuclear missile system to U.S. inspectors as part of a bilateral arms control treaty ahead of the missile’s deployment, Interfax reported Tuesday.

     – Cyber

Dept. of Interior Grounds Its Chinese-Made Drones
Agency leaders green-lit the purchases in July despite warnings from DHS and outside experts that Beijing might collect data from the drones.

Russia’s Military Is Writing an Armed-Robot Playbook
The new tactics and operating concepts will draw on three years of Syrian operations.

Does Russia Have a Key Advantage Over America in a Ground War?
Electronic warfare: In a ground war, the Kremlin’s forces would be well-equipped to jam U.S. and allied communications and sensors. What is America doing about it?

The World Needs Twice as Many Cybersecurity Pros
In the U.S., an industry nonprofit found that two of every five cybersecurity jobs is going unfilled.

Caucasus

In Georgia, too, it’s the economy, stupid
Georgia has recently seen a burst of protest activity around political, cultural, and geopolitical issues. But a new poll highlights how the economy is by far Georgians’ biggest concern.

Unpacking Armenia’s resilient economic growth
Though it is diversifying the main drivers of its impressive growth, Armenia’s dependence on Russia remains a vulnerability.

Karabakh prepares for unprecedented elections
Next spring’s vote for de facto leader will take place amid deep changes in the territory’s relationship with its patron, Armenia.

 

Central Asia 

Kyrgyzstan says its economy is growing at a healthy clip. Really?
Kyrgyzstan’s dependence on one gold mine leaves it vulnerable to economic shocks.

Desperate Times: Turkmen Turn To Uzbekistan To Stem Major Cash Shortage
Hundreds of people line up behind the gate of the Uzbek Embassy in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, at the crack of dawn each morning in the hope of getting a visa to Uzbekistan

Tajikistan, Uzbekistan reportedly reach border settlement
Tajiks are angered by reports that the government is giving away a gold mine.

 

Eastern Europe 

Moldova’s fledgling government felled by no-confidence vote
A no-confidence vote brought down Moldova’s government on Tuesday, threatening more instability just five months after pro-Western Prime Minister Maia Sandu took office promising to fight corruption.

30 YEARS OF TRANSITION: Poland at a crossroads
Poland is entering the fourth decade since the fall of communism with polls showing the majority of its people actually do like what has become of their country since 1989.

        – Ukraine

Ukraine reports 9.8% y/y real wage growth in September
Real wages in Ukraine grew 9.8% year-on-year in September, accelerating from a 7.7% y/y growth in August.

Ukraine on course to smash its 2019 grain harvest record, remain world’s biggest grain exporter
Ukrainian farmers have threshed a record 70.8mn tonnes as of the middle of November, more than the 70.1mn tonnes threshed during all of last year.

Survey Done in Ukraine’s Occupied Territories Reveals Startling Opinions
Half of Ukrainians in the occupied territories think that they should be integrated with Russia.

Population of occupied Donbas believes Russia not involved in war
A majority of people living in the occupied Donbas think Russia has nothing to do with the war in Ukraine

World Bank revises upwards GDP growth forecast for Ukraine in 2019 from 3.4% y/y to 3.6% y/y
The World Bank has revised upwards its forecast for Ukraine’s GDP growth in 2019 from 3.4% year-on-year to 3.6% y/y

EC recommends Kiev return to direct gas purchases from Russia
The European Commission wishes Kiev to buy Russian gas in the amount of around 15 bln cubic meters per year

Ukraine retail sales grew by 10% y/y in January-October
Ukraine retail sales advanced 10.2% year-on-year in real terms in in January-October, accelerating from 9.8% y/y in September

Ukraine in play: How Chinese investments change the game
krainians have watched nervously over the past couple weeks as a parade of professional United States diplomats and security officials have extolled Ukraine as a vital U.S. ally, one whose security was imperiled by President Donald Trump’s alleged withholding of aid in return for personal political favors.

Why Ukraine’s president said there had been ‘no pressure’ from Trump
The word is weighted with different meanings in Ukraine.

Soaring hryvnia value causing problems for Ukraine
Ukraine hryvnia has gained 15% to the dollar this year and its strength is causing problems for exporters

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Signs Law On Corruption Whistle
Under the law that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (pictured) signed on November 13, whistle-blowers can earn up to $51,000 for reporting graft.

 

US

Russia orders extra Soyuz manned spacecraft as NASA replacements wallow in uncertainty
Some additional manned Soyuz missions are being prepared after NASA requested extra rides to the International Space Station (ISS), amid uncertainties surrounding US-made manned vehicles.

Russia willing to cut Soyuz crews for US ISS flights
The head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, has said it is prepared to reduce the crews manning the Soyuz spacecraft to make room for U.S. astronauts travelling to the International Space station (ISS).

U.S. Cultural Exchange With Russia
Russia’s ambassador to the United States says the exchanges are important for shaping common values. Also: Change in Mexico; middle-aged women.

Russians’ Apathy Toward Trump Hits Record High
Russians’ indifference toward U.S. President Donald Trump has reached an all-time high.

Most Russians remain downbeat on ties with America
More than half of those polled describe the relations as tense.

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.