Eurasian Affairs – September, 2018

Peace Treaty negotiations remain ongoing between Russia and Japan over the Kurill Islands.

Policy and Conflict Post Soviet

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 to Hold Mediterranean Drills Involving 25 Warships and 30 Aircraft
Russia will hold drills in the Mediterranean Sea on September 1-8 with the involvement of 25 warships and 30 aircraft, the Defense Ministry reported on Thursday, August 27th.

Vostok 2018 War Games: China’s Chance to Learn Russia’s Military Lessons from Syria
The Chinese armed forces will have the chance next month to learn from Russia’s combat experience in Syria when PLA personnel take part in Moscow’s biggest war games in decades, Chinese military sources and observers said.

US Sanctions Chinese Military for Buying Russian Arms
The Trump administration imposed sanctions on the Chinese military on Thursday for buying fighter jets and missile systems from Russia, in breach of a sweeping U.S. sanctions law punishing Moscow for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

US Air Force Chiefs Want Fleet Strength to Return to Cold War Levels in Preparation for Conflict with China or Russia
US air force chiefs want to rebuild combat aircraft strength to Cold War levels to be ready for a war with Russia or China. Under their plan, the number of operational squadrons would increase by 24 per cent from 312 to 386, close to the 401 that were in operation at the height of tension with the Soviet Union.

Russia Wants a Deal with the United States on Cyber Issues. Why Does Washington Keep Saying No?
On at least three occasions in the last two years, Russia has proposed cybersecurity cooperation with the United States only to be told no. Here are three reasons why.

Sino-Russia Military Relations at “an All-Time High”
Like most high-ranking military officers, Air Force General Xu Qiliang is direct and to the point. The vice-chairman of China’s powerful Central Military Commission rarely uses six words when one will do. At a high-level meeting with Moscow’s Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu in Beijing earlier this year Xu left no-one in doubt about the depth and breadth of “Sino-Russian relations.”

What Russia’s Vostok-18 Exercise with China Means
Moscow knows what it is doing and Washington should take note.

Know Your Enemy; How Operating in Close Proximity in Syria has Provided Both U.S. And Russian Forces With Valuable Intelligence on One Another’s Operations
While operating alongside Russian forces has granted the U.S. military an opportunity to assess its capabilities, Russia’s armed forces have themselves gained considerably from the ability to observe American forces in action.

5 Things to Know About Russia’s Vostok-2018 Military Exercises
Military analysts around the world are keeping a close eye on Russia’s annual fall military maneuvers, as this year may turn out to be the largest post-Cold War show of force. Vostok-2018 kicks off this week in Russia’s Far East and the Pacific Ocean, along with auxiliary exercises before and after the main event.

Russia Completes Replacement of Ukrainian Imports in Defense Industry
The Russian defense industry has completed the replacement of Ukraine-produced products needed for the production of weapons and military hardware by Russia-produced analogues, a senior Russian official says.

In Cyberspace, Governments Don’t Know How to Count
NATO’s governments can’t agree on what constitutes a cyber attack, and that’s a big problem.



As Ice Recedes, the Arctic isn’t Prepared For More Shipping Traffic
“I was aboard the 364-foot Russian research-cruise ship Akademik Ioffe when it came to a violent stop after grounding on a shoal in a remote region of the Gulf of Boothia in Canada’s Arctic. Fortunately, none of the 102 passengers and 24 crew members were injured. It could’ve ended up a lot worse.”

Putin invites foreign partners to develop Northern Sea Route
The logistic potential of the Russian Far East should be used to the fullest extent, Putin said.



Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s Interview with Pravda, Slovakia
Russia’s Foreign Minister comments on the possibilities of international cooperation for Russia, the Crimean issue, situation in Syria, Nord Stream 2 and more.

Russian Ministry Warns of Coming Environmental Apocalypse Fueled by Climate Change
Russia’s environmental ministry has published a report that paints an apocalyptic future for the country due to climate change, with consequences including epidemics, drought, mass flooding and hunger.

Russia Warns of “Fragile” Oil Market due to Geopolitics, But Says It Can Raise Output
Global oil markets remain “fragile” due to geopolitics and production declines in several regions, Russia’s energy minister said on Wednesday, September 12th, but added his country could raise output if needed.

Moscow to Join WTO Reform Efforts
Moscow is interested in reforming the World Trade Organization (WTO) and believes it necessary to bolster the effectiveness of its Dispute Settlement Body, Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development told Izvestia, noting that “far from all of its members” support reforming the organization.

WADA Reinstates Russia
On September 20th, the great majority of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Executive Committee decided to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) as compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. This opens the door to Russian sportsmen on the Olympic stage again.

Russia Probes Sabotage on Space Station
Russia’s space agency on Wednesday said it will hopefully announce in the coming weeks the origin of a small hole discovered on the inner wall of Russia’s Soyuz module on the International Space Station.


Russia-US Relations

More in US Favor Diplomacy Over Sanctions for Russia
In an era of increasingly tense U.S.-Russian relations marked by allegations of Russian meddling in U.S. elections, Americans believe it is more important to try to continue efforts to improve relations between the countries (58%), rather than taking strong diplomatic and economic steps against Russia (36%).

Agents Tried to Flip Russian Oligarchs. The Fallout Spread to Trump
In the estimation of American officials, Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with close ties to the Kremlin, has faced credible accusations of extortion, bribery and even murder. They also thought he might make a good source

Trump’s Energy Secretary Heading To Moscow To Discuss More Energy Sanctions
Energy Secretary Rick Perry was in Moscow in early September and the topic at hand won’t be too pleasing to the ears of Russia’s energy giants, namely Gazprom and its now infamous Nord Stream II pipeline.

Tinder Woes, Suspicious Landlords and Snarky Bosses: Young and Russian in D.C.
Washington’s young émigré crowd is beginning to feel like they’re living in a spy novel. And they’re the bad guys.

US Tells Russia it Could Avoid Novichok Sanctions in Exchange for Chemical Inspections
The United States has said Russia would be able to avoid a second, more punishing round of sanctions over the nerve-agent attack in Britain if it allows chemical weapons inspections.

Tefft Returns to Kyiv, Reflects on Stressful Moscow post, Putin’s Mistakes and West’s Challenge
It’s been a homecoming week for John F. Tefft, the American diplomat with a knack for serving as the U.S. ambassador in nations as they undergo historic and often tumultuous times.

The US Calls On Russia To Cap Soaring Oil Prices
As crucial mid-term congressional elections in November draw near, the Trump administration is feeling the heat over higher oil prices.

New Sanctions Won’t Hurt Russia
Washington thinks punitive measures will change Moscow’s calculus, but the Russian economy is doing just fine.


Central Asia and Caucasus

Armenian Leader Pushes For Early Parliamentary Elections After Big Victory In Yerevan
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian says that the nation should hold fresh parliamentary elections “very soon” in light of his bloc’s landslide victory in the mayoral race in Yerevan.


Middle East

Idlib Assault on Hold as Russia, Turkey Agree on Buffer Zone
Erdogan and Putin announce de-militarised zone between opposition and Syrian government forces in last rebel bastion.



Salisbury Novichok Suspects Say They Were Only Visiting Cathedral
The two men identified as suspects in the Salisbury nerve agent attack have appeared on Russia’s state-funded TV station RT, claiming they visited the “wonderful” English city as tourists to see its cathedral.

Romania to Extradite Hacker Guccifer to the US
A Romanian court ruled that a notorious hacker known as Guccifer will be extradited to serve a sentence in the US after he finishes his jail time in his home country.

Moldova and Transnistria: the Spectre of Federalization
A number of events have taken place in the past few months sparking a new wave of conspiracy theories about the possibility of Transnistria reintegrating into Moldova in the near future.

Europe Finally Has an Excuse to Challenge the Dollar
The plan for a “special purpose vehicle” to bypass U.S. sanctions on Iran could test American dominance of the global financial system.

Peddling Certainty
Paul Robinson, a professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa and the author of numerous books on Russia and Soviet history, comments on Petrov and Boshirov situation and suggests to be cautious while reading Bellingcat’s reports.

Serbia Pride: Gay PM Brnabic ‘Not Wanted’ at Parade
Ahead of 2018 Pride, a group of activists disappointed with the slow pace of reforms launched a campaign called “Say no”. Its main goal is to prevent politicians from attending Pride marches, as campaigners believe they have done little to strengthen LGBT rights.

Belarus Is Trying to Weave a New National Identity
It is a large and uncertain undertaking.

Switzerland Demands Russia “End Illegal Activities” After Two Suspected Spy Cases
A diplomatic war of words between Switzerland and Russia has intensified, with the Swiss demanding that Moscow cease spying activities on its territory after two suspected espionage cases came to light in recent days.

Moldova Protesters Rally for Reunification with Romania
Thousands rallied in Moldova’s capital Chisinau in favour of reunification with Romania, while a planned pro-Russian protest on the same square was cancelled.



Ukrainians Relive Bloodshed of Kiev’s Maidan in Virtual Reality
A virtual reality reconstruction of the bloodiest day in the 2013/2014 street demonstrations in Ukraine has been built, in part, with help from a grant from Google.

Critics Blast Lviv’s Ban On Russian-Language Culture
The critics, including Western diplomats in Kyiv, are blasting a moratorium in western Ukraine on all Russian-language books, films, and songs as bigoted and misguided.

Poroshenko Regains Public Support Ahead of Ukraine Presidential Election
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is winning back some of the ground he lost in Ukraine’s presidential election polls and is back in the top three, according to the latest results.

Surprise—Ukrainians Are Bullish on Trump
He’s oddly fond of Putin, but his administration has been tougher on Russia than Obama’s was.

Ukrainians Say Bribe Problem Worse Now than in 2015
Despite government promises to tackle corruption, Ukrainians say they encounter bribery even more frequently in 2018 than they did in 2015, according to a study published on Sept. 25.

Ukraine is Building a Mosquito Navy to Fend Off Russia, With US Help
Hostilities in the Sea of Azov are heating up, and the U.S. is increasing its involvement.

Russia’s “blockade” of Sea of Azov Ports Angers Ukraine
Seagulls whirl over the docks of Ukraine’s port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov as huge cranes once used to unload ships’ cargoes stand idle.



Japan, Russia See Way Out of 70-Year Squabble
Japanese leader Abe suggests joint administration of long-disputed islands; Russia’s Putin goes even further.

Why China’s investment Play Into Russia May Endure
Building a long-term relationship has big advantages for both Beijing and Moscow.

Moon’s Praise-and-Pressure Plan to Get Trump to Help End Korean War
“You are, indeed, the only person who can solve this problem,” Moon said of Trump — just before he amped up the pressure.

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.