Eurasian Affairs – October, 2018

Assistant to the US President for National Security Affairs, John Bolton met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow shortly after President Trump announced the US withdrawl from the INF treaty. Image from Kremlin.ru.

Policy and Conflict Post SovietEurasian 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.

Military

Exclusive: Russian MiG-31 Foxhound Carrying Huge Mystery Missile Emerges Near Moscow
The big rocket is likely to be either a space-launch system or an anti-satellite weapon, and maybe even both.

US Aircraft Carrier Enters Arctic Circle For the First Time in Nearly Three Decades
A US aircraft carrier strike group has entered the Arctic to join a massive NATO naval drill close to Russian border for the first time since the end of the Cold War.

NATO Launches Biggest War Games Since End of Cold War
Nearly 50,000 troops are joining NATO war games in Norway to test alliance defenses against a “fictitious aggressor.” Germany is the second largest participant as it prepares to head NATO’s rapid response force.

Trident Juncture 2018
It is happening in the air, on land, at sea and in cyberspace.

Flooding of the Floating Dock in Murmansk Occurred due to the Shutdown of Pumps
Pumps failed due to a power surge, causing the floating dock in Murmansk to sink. The aircraft carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov was being repaired there at the time and was damaged.

Press Review: Russia Scuttles NATO’s Planned Azov Drills and BRICS Braces for Bolsonaro
NATO ships won’t enter the Sea of Azov, since Russia is not going to allow joint exercises between the alliance and Ukraine there, Crimea’s leader Sergey Aksyonov told Izvestia on Tuesday. According to him, Russia will defend its national interests, and Kiev’s plans to instigate new anti-Russian sanctions will only have a boomerang effect, he stressed.

“Take Out” Russian Missiles? U.S. Envoy’s Remark Spurs Anger, and Pullback
The United States ambassador to NATO nearly set off a diplomatic incident on Tuesday, October 2, when she suggested that the United States might “take out” Russian missiles that it views in violation of a longstanding arms control treaty.

Here’s the US Army’s New Russia-Era Shopping List
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forced the U.S. Army to rethink its needs, from better cyber security to longer-ranged artillery cannons, according to the commander of the service’s new Futures Command.

Ukrainian Armed-Drone Makers Sprint Ahead as Russian Effort Hits Snag
The Ukrainians are eagerly off showing a proposed long-range UAV while uncertainty surrounds Russia’s Altius program.

Why Today’s Troops Fear a New War is Coming Soon
Nearly half of all current military troops believe the United States will be drawn into a major war soon, a jarring rise in anxiety among service members worried about global instability in general and Russia and China in particular, according to a new Military Times poll of active-duty troops.

Two Pilots Die In Ukrainian Fighter Jet Crash, U.S. Pilot ‘Involved’
A two-seat Ukrainian fighter jet has crashed during a joint exercise with NATO air forces, killing both the pilot and co-pilot, Ukraine’s military says.

How Russia Moved into Central Africa
When Central African Republic (CAR) pleaded for help last year to fight marauding militias, former colonial ruler France offered guns it had seized off Somalia. But Russia objected and donated its own weapons instead.

       Treaties

Russia Wants U.S. To Admit ‘Nobody Can Win A Nuclear War’
ussia has urged the United States to issue a joint statement expressing that both parties recognize how a nuclear exchange between them would end in mutually ensured destruction.

U.S. Withdrawal From Cold War-Era Missile Treaty Would Be A ‘Dangerous’ Step, Russia Says
Russia has warned the United States not to go ahead with its planned withdrawal from a key Cold War-era arms-control treaty with Moscow, saying it could trigger retaliatory measures.

It’s Wrong to Tie Future of New START Treaty to Situation Around INF Treaty – Russian Foreign Ministry
The Russian Foreign Ministry sees Washington’s attempts to tie the issue of preserving the New START Treaty to the situation surrounding the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty as a mistaken approach.

Russia Nuclear Treaty: Bolton in Moscow amid Missile Tensions
US National Security Adviser John Bolton has been holding talks in Russia after it condemned US plans to pull out of a key nuclear treaty.

Cyber Security

U.S. Begins First Cyberoperation Against Russia Aimed at Protecting Elections
The United States Cyber Command is targeting individual Russian operatives to try to deter them from spreading disinformation to interfere in elections, telling them that American operatives have identified them and are tracking their work, according to officials briefed on the operation.

Russia Accused of Cyber-Attack on Chemical Weapons Watchdog
A Russian cyber-attack on the headquarters of the international chemical weapons watchdog was disrupted by Dutch military intelligence just weeks after the Salisbury novichok attack, it emerged on Thursday, October 4, amid fresh revelations of spying that escalated the diplomatic war between the west and Vladimir Putin.

Justice Department Charges 7 Russian Hackers with Targeting Doping Agencies, Nuclear Energy Company
The Justice Department on Thursday said it has charged seven Russian intelligence officials with hacking doping agencies and other organizations, including a Pennsylvania-based nuclear energy company.

The UK is Practicing Cyberattacks that Could Black Out Moscow
British defense officials say they have practiced cyber war games that could shut off electricity in Russia’s capital, the Sunday Times reports.

Space

Existential Problems Threaten U.S.-Russia Space Cooperation (Op-ed)
Following a series of recent crises, Russia has yet to prove it is a reliable partner.

Roscosmos Ready to Send Delegation to US for Negotiations with NASA
Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos is ready to send its delegation to the United States in early 2019 for talks with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, a Roscosmos spokesperson told TASS on Wednesday, October 24.

 

Other Russia-US Relations

Agenda for Potential Putin-Trump Paris Summit Requires Clarification, Says Senior Diplomat
The agenda for the prospective summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump, which is planned to be held in Paris on November 11, still needs to be clarified, but Moscow is anticipating a full-fledged and extremely practical conversation, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told TASS.

Meeting with Assistant to the US President for National Security Affairs John Bolton
Vladimir Putin received in the Kremlin Assistant to the President of the United States of America for National Security Affairs John Bolton.

Russia’s Putin Urges End to Washington Political Infighting
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that the United States should bring a halt to internal political infighting which he said was poisoning U.S. relations with Russia.

Will America Shape Its Grand Strategy Around China or Russia?
The debate doesn’t just have consequences for U.S. foreign policy—it will define the next decades of domestic affairs as well.

Majority of Russians Favor China, Dislike U.S. – Poll
A new survey shows an overwhelming asymmetry in the Russian public’s attitudes toward China and the United States as Moscow’s ties with Washington continue suffering post-Cold War lows.

    Sanctions

U.S. Business Warns on ‘Scorched Earth’ Russia Sanctions
Proposals now under consideration in Congress to expand U.S. sanctions on Russia’s big state banks could cause major turmoil for global energy supplies, an American business group warns.

California Firefighters Make It Hard to Break Up With Russia
An escalating war of words between Russia and the U.S. didn’t prevent a chunk of pensions that belong to Californian firefighters and police officers from finding its way into debt sold by President Vladimir Putin’s government.

U.S. Senate Says Stalin ‘Committed Genocide’ In Famine-Hit Ukraine
The U.S. Senate has adopted a resolution recognizing that Soviet dictator Josef Stalin committed genocide against the Ukrainian people in the early 1930s, when millions died in a horrific famine known as the Holodomor.

 

Central-Asia-StudiesCentral Asia & Caucasus

Bolton Visits Caucasus amid anti-Iran Campaign
A senior adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump is visiting the Caucasus, where he is expected to try to enlist the region’s three governments in Washington’s campaign of isolating Iran. But leaders in the Caucasus, wary of confronting Tehran, will likely instead be promoting their own interests to an administration that has thus far largely neglected the region.

Russia Accuses US of Attempt at Shifting Armenia’s Moscow Loyalties
Russia has accused the US of making a barely disguised attempt at persuading Armenia to shift its allegiances away from its traditional ally Moscow.

Georgian Presidential Vote Held On ‘Unlevel Playing Field,’ Goes To Runoff
Georgians will choose a new president in a runoff after a very close, inconclusive first-round vote in an election that international observers say was competitive but clouded by “an unlevel playing field” and private-media bias.

Turkmenistan: My Kingdom for a Horse
After a decade-long hiatus, Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov last week convened the Halk Maslahaty, or People’s Council.

Enter Nikol Pashinyan: The Causes and Future Prospects of the 2018 Armenian Revolution
Last spring, a surging wave of protests ended a regime of post-Soviet restoration in Armenia. Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan prudently chose to resign. After a fortnight—filled with desperate maneuvering by the parliament’s imperiled majority against the impressively coordinated stoppages of city traffic by protestors—Nikol Pashinyan, the charismatic protest leader and oppositional MP, had to be elected the new prime minister.

Under New Uzbek Leadership, Even Predecessor’s Widow, Family Are In The Crosshairs
Uzbek President Shavkhat Mirziyoev has pulled no punches going after those who served under his autocratic predecessor, Islam Karimov.

Row in Italy over U-turn Allowing Completion of Azerbaijan-to-EU Gas Pipeline
Italy’s populist 5-Star Movement has backed off from its electoral pledge to stop the last leg of the Southern Gas Corridor (SCG) pipeline project designed to bring Azerbaijani gas to the EU via Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Albania and a route under the Adriatic Sea.

 

Middle East

Putin, Egyptian Leader Sign ‘Strategic’ Partnership Treaty
Meeting in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi, the Russian and Egyptian presidents have signed what officials describes as a strategic cooperation treaty designed to increase trade, military, and other ties between the two nations.

 

SSI-bannerEurope

EU Plans to Connect Russia, China to its Future International Payment Network
The European Union plans to connect Russia and China to its international payment system, currently being designed as an alternative to the global provider of financial messaging services, SWIFT, Russia’s EU envoy said on Thursday, October 25.

Macedonian PM Pledges To Forge Ahead On Name Change, Despite Low Turnout For Referendum
Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has vowed to keep pushing for a change to the Balkan nation’s name to end a decades-old dispute with neighboring Greece despite the failure of a referendum on the move to secure the required 50 percent voter turnout.

Divide And Rule? Complex Ethnic Problems Dominate Bosnian Campaign
More than two decades after its signing, Bosnia-Herzegovina is still guided by a stopgap settlement, known as the Dayton Agreement, which brought postwar order to curb hostilities among its three main ethnic groups.

Will Macedonia’s Orthodox Church Also Break Away?
Deep concerns have emerged within the Serbian Orthodox Church over a move by the leadership of Orthodox Christianity toward recognizing the Ukrainian church’s independence from Moscow.

Macedonian Opposition Leader Urges New Election, End To Name Change Deal
The leader of Macedonia’s opposition is urging the government to break off a deal to change the country’s name and to call early elections.

 

Ukraine

Entrepreneurs of Political Violence: the Varied Interests and Strategies of the Far-Right in Ukraine
For Ukraine’s far right, violence has become a source of influence and power.

The Dark Side of Ukraine’s Surrogacy Boom
Lack of oversight, lax regulations and a failing economy have made the eastern European country one of the most popular destinations to find a surrogate mother.

IMF Ranks Ukraine as Europe’s Poorest Country
Ukraine’s GDP per capita in current prices in US dollar terms stood at $2,964.193 in 2018, according to October’s update of the World Economic Outlook published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). That makes Ukraine the poorest country in Europe, behind Moldova ($3,226.717), Belarus ($6,020.043) and Russia ($10,950.492).

Ukrainian Filmmaking Emerges From The Shadows, But Can ‘Patriotism’ Pack Cinemas?
For decades, Ukraine’s modest film industry has been overshadowed by that of neighboring Russia. But in the years since a corrupt, eastward-looking government was toppled in 2014, Ukrainian cinema is enjoying a moment in the spotlight, bolstered by state funding, a wave of nationalist fervor, and an energized class of passionate young filmmakers.

Bilingual Magazine Becomes First Victim of Lviv Oblast ‘Moratorium on Russian’
The magazine SHO writes about culture and the arts in both Ukrainian and Russian, as it has done for 13 years. But it soon may be forced to halt operations in Ukraine’s western Lviv Oblast due to a law restricting Russian-language cultural products.

Ukrainians Believe Corruption a Bigger Problem than War with Russia
The poll found that 78.9% of Ukrainians think corruption is among the most serious problems for the country, compared with 55.1% that believe war is a serious problem.

      Russian Relations

More Ukrainians Hold Positive Views of Russia Than Negative, Poll Says
More Ukrainians say they have a positive view of Russia than a year ago despite continuing conflicts between the two countries, according to a joint Russian-Ukrainian poll, while a majority of Russians say they continue to see Ukraine in a negative light.

Ukraine Needs Azov Sea Base to Counter New Russian Threat
Ukraine will build a military base on the Azov Sea and has sent more forces to the area to counter a worsening Russian threat, Ukraine’s armed forces head told Reuters, referring to an arm of the Black Sea that is a flashpoint of tensions with Moscow.

Ukraine Sets Up Group to Stop any Attempt by Russia to Influence Elections
Ukraine has set up a group to stop any attempt by Russia to influence next year’s elections, a state security body said on Thursday, October 18.

Ukraine Opposition Leader Pledges to Change Negotiations Format with Russia
Ukraine’s opposition leader, former prime minister and the leader of the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party Yulia Tymoshenko is going to change the format of negotiations with the Kremlin to attempt to bring Russian military aggression against Kyiv to an end.

      Religious Schism

Ukraine Wins Approval for Historic Split from Russian Church
Ukraine secured approval on Thursday, October 11, to establish an independent church in what Kiev says is a vital step against Russian meddling in its affairs, but the Russian clergy fiercely opposes as the biggest split in Christianity for a thousand years.

Russian-Ukrainian Church Turmoil Driven by Political Ambitions
With less than six months to go before Ukraine’s presidential election, the country’s unpopular leader, Petro Poroshenko, has set himself the ambitious task of dismantling the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and creating a single national church out of the many Christian denominations in his country.

Birth of a New Ukrainian Church Brings Fears of Violence
The rough-looking young men brought clubs and brass knuckles to the Pechersk Monastery in Kiev, one of Orthodox Christianity’s most important pilgrimage sites, apparently seeking to disrupt worship. On the other side of the dispute, at a small church in the center of Kiev, a dozen men organized round-the-clock guard duty, worried that nationalist radicals might make their third attempt in a year to seize the place of worship. These incidents underline the tensions in Ukraine as it prepares to establish a full-fledged Orthodox church of its own.

 

China

The Realities of Life in Russia’s Far East
So close to China, so far from making use of that fact.

Can Russia’s Far East Feed China With Soy?
The trade war with the United States has piqued China’s interest in Russian soybean imports. Russian officials are optimistic about the prospects of increasing soy exports to China, but their expectations might be unrealistic.

How China’s Railways Are Leading To High-Speed Debt
Debts nearly twice its GDP are driving China’s massive rail expansion — and threatening to burden its economy.

China Cancels Military Talks With US in Protest at Sanctions Over Russia Military Equipment
China summoned the U.S. ambassador in Beijing and postponed joint military talks in protest against a U.S. decision to sanction a Chinese military agency and its director for buying Russian fighter jets and a surface-to-air missile system.

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.