Eurasian Affairs- November 2018

This image of the Kerch Strait Incident was released by the Crimean Branch of the FSB.

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.



Five Ways to Entice Ukrainians to Come Home
“There are 52 million of us,” went the catchphrase that was broadcast every evening on popular Ukrainian television channel 1+1 in the 90s. The numbers were based on a1989 population census.

The Flood of Ukrainians Leaving to Work in EU Countries has Reached its Peak
The flood of Ukrainians leaving the country to look for work in the EU countries that began in 2014 has peaked and will stabilize or start to decrease in 2019, according to a report by the Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) released in October.

Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis ‘Believed’ to Have Trained US White Supremacists- FBI
Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov battalion is “believed to have participated in training and radicalizing” US-based white supremacists, the FBI said in a recent indictment of several California men involved in the Charlottesville violence.

The Self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republic in Eastern Ukraine Held Controversial Elections
The self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk (aka Lugansk) People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) in eastern Ukraine held controversial elections on November 11 to choose a new government, despite international commendation of the vote.

Ukraine Remembers Stalin-era Famine After 85 Years
Ukrainians on Saturday marked 85 years since millions died in a Soviet-era famine that many now regard as a genocide ordered by then leader Joseph Stalin.

Russian Music, Movies Banned in Public Places in Ternopil Region
A moratorium on the use of Russian-language cultural products in any form has been introduced in Ukraine’s Ternopil region.

     – Upcoming Presidential Elections

Who’s Who in Ukraine’s 2019 Elections
Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is currently leading the polls in the race for president.

Opposition Leader Yuliya Tymoshenko Increases Her Lead in Ukraine’s Presidential Race
Opposition leader, former prime minister and head of Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party Yulia Tymoshenko remained the frontrunner in Ukraine’s forthcoming presidential election race, a new joint poll by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS), the Razumkov Center and Rating pollster showed on November 13.

Ukraine’s Fall From Hope
Pro-democracy protests rocked the country and transfixed the world five years ago. Today, a walk around the Maidan reveals a complicated legacy.

Pre-Election Poll Gives Poroshenko Highest ‘Anti-Rating’ of All Presidential Candidates
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is facing an uphill battle for re-election in the upcoming March 2019 presidential vote, according to the latest poll of Ukrainians’ electoral preferences.

    – Kerch Strait Incident

Poll: 63% of Ukrainians see Russia as Aggressor
Russia is seen as an aggressor country by the overwhelming majority of respondents in the west and in the center of Ukraine.

Kerch Incident Explainer
This article explains the treaties governing movement through the Kerch Strait as well as how the current dispute over Crimea impacts how those treaties are working.

Did Ukraine Provoke the Clash in the Sea of Azov?
I’m going to get into trouble asking this question. The problem is that the whole situation in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has become so emotional and polarised that even suggesting Russia is not entirely to blame for the flaring military tensions in the Sea of Azov over the weekend brings down condemnation from Ukraine’s supporters – which include most of the western world.

Russia Starts Prosecuting Ukrainians After Sea Clash
Russia on Tuesday began prosecuting the crew of Ukrainian navy vessels captured over the weekend in a confrontation off Crimea, putting some of the seamen on camera, where they confessed to intruding into Russian waters.

Ukraine Imposes Martial Law to Combat ‘Growing Aggression’ from Russia
The approved measures included a partial mobilization and strengthening of air defenses. It also contained vaguely worded steps such as “strengthening” anti-terrorism measures and “information security” that could curtail certain rights and freedoms.

Behind Ukraine-Russia Naval Tensions, A More Brutal Economic War
Trade ties with western Europe haven’t matched Ukraine’s hopes. That gives Russia extra leverage over a neighbor with whom historic bonds run deep, even amid the current situation off the shores of Crimea.



Providing for the Common Defense
The Assessment and Recommendations of the National Defense Stratefy Commission.

It’s No Surprise India Finally Ditched Its Stealth Fighter Program with Russia
With the project effectively dead, the future of both India’s stealth fighter plans and Russia’s Su-57 are in limbo.

     – INF Treaty

Russia Says Planning for New U.S. Nuclear Missiles in Europe
Russia said on Monday it was planning for a U.S. deployment of new nuclear missiles in Europe following Washington’s planned withdrawal from a landmark Cold war-era arms control treaty despite the United States denying it has such plans.

Kremlin on Updating Nuclear Doctrine: Putin Already Listen Grounds for Use of Nukes
Earlier, the Russian Federation Council’s Committee for Defense and Security suggested that the Security Council discuss a new policy of nuclear deterrence.

Russia ‘Assessing’ Military Base in Cuba as U.S. Set to Leave Nuclear Missile Deal
A senior Russian official said Wednesday that his country was seriously considering establishing a military base in Cuba, just as the two Cold War–era allies were set to meet for high-level talks and the United States mulled quitting a nuclear missile deal.

More Details on Reasons Behind US Decision to Leave INF Treaty
Picking up useful bits of information here and there is the best way to find answers to hard questions. It takes time but the effort pays off.

     – NATO Excercises

NATO’s Trident Juncture Exercise as a Deterrance Signal to Russia
This week, NATO forces are engaged in the largest military exercise the alliance has organized since the end of the Cold War and the first major Western exercise in decades to take place in the Arctic region.

NATO Launches Military Exercise in and around Scandanavia
Trident Juncture officially started Thursday, with some 50,000 troops from all 29 NATO members and Sweden and Finland preparing for drills on land, sea, and in the air from the Baltic Sea to Iceland.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors: Russia and Norway’s Svalbard
Military activity in and around the Barents Sea is heating up, with Russian and NATO forces increasing their maneuvers and exercises. As Russia anticipated the start of NATO exercise Trident Juncture of around 50,000 troops in Norway in late October 2018, it launched an anti-submarine exercise with torpedo launches in the Barents Sea. This was preceded in June by the largest exercise in over a decade of Russia’s Northern Fleet in the Barents Sea to thwart an enemy attack.

Poland, Baltic States Host Their Biggest-Ever NATO Military Drills
NATO soldiers prepare for an exercise in Poland in 2015.

     – Cybersecurity

CyberCom Is Targeting Russia’s Election Meddlers — and Changing How Governments Use Cyber
Although anonymity is generally prized for successful cyber operations, it might not be ideal in all cases, especially if the United States wants to deter an Russia spreading disinformation.

How Estonia Secures its Electronic Elections from Kremlin Attacks
Could innovations like a volunteer infosec corps and ‘data embassies’ hel the U.S.?

Inside the British Army’s Secret Information Warfare Machine
They are soldiers, but the 77th Brigade edit videos, record podcasts and write viral posts. Welcome to the age of information warfare.

GPS Signals Jammed: Norway, Finland Warn Pilots Russia May Blind their Navigation Systems
The GPS signal guiding ships, aircraft, trucks and troops has started to fail. Something odd is happening and there’s a worrying reason behind it.

What is the GRU? Who gets Recruited to be a Spy? Why are they exposed so often?
The agency’s staff now stand accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee computer network and trying to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election; hacking various anti-doping agencies and the International Court of Arbitration; and trying to hack the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Netherlands.


Central Asia

Government of Kyrgyzstan Intends to Revise Kumtor Agreement
The government of Kyrgyzstan wants to revise a strategic agreement with the Canadian company Centerra Gold Inc. on cooperation on Kumtor project. The Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Mukhammedkaly Abylgaziyev announced this today at a meeting of the Parliament.

IMF Says Uzbek Economy Shows Early Signs of Overheating
The engines of growth are being heard anew in Tashkent, but the IMF has issued a ‘Steady as she goes!’ warning.

Kyrgyzstan: Skies Over Kumtor Gold Field Darken Once More
The PM is talking about renegotiating a deal reached only last year.

Uzbekistan Granted Duty-Free Entry to EU Market
EU is ready to provide Uzbekistan with the opportunity to supply more than 6,200 types of goods to the European market without duties, Uzbek media reports.

European Union to Open a New Delegation in Turkmenistan
Following a decision of Federica Mogherini, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, the European Union will open a Delegation in Turkmenistan. This will take the number of EU Delegations around the world to 141 in total.

     – Afghanistan

Moscow Shows It’s Back in the ‘Great Game’ by Hosting Taliban-Afghan Peace Talks
Russia pledged Friday to use its diplomatic muscle to help spur peace efforts in Afghanistan after hosting Afghan envoys and their Taliban foes- a meeting that Moscow also used to showcase its drive to reassert influence in the region.

Taliban Representatives in Moscow Signal Russia’s Rising Diplomatic Clout
Representatives of the Taliban took a seat at a conference table in Moscow on Friday alongside members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, in a forum in the Russian Foreign Ministry has billed as an unprecedented event.

What Game is Russia Playing in Afghanistan?
Russia is seeking to re-assert itself as a major player in Afghanistan

Kremlin Brings Kabul and Taliban to the Table
Despite failing to reach an agreement, the Moscow-sponsored talks represent a diplomatic coup for the Russians.



Georgia Elects Salome Zurabishvili as First Woman President
Salome Zurabishvili has won Georgia’s presidential election, becoming the first woman to hold the office.

Republican Party ‘Positioning Itself as Radical Opposition’
The former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) on Monday announced its pre-election platform, elaborating on the key steps reflecting their vision for the country’s development.

Mediators Welcome Continuing Dialogue on Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia, Azerbaijan
The Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers may meet on the sidelines of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan scheduled for December to continue talks on Nagorno-Karabakh

Presidentials: Expert Assessments in Tbilisi
On October 28, Georgians went to polls to elect their fifth president. Runoff between the two top contenders- the ruling party-backed Salome Zurabishvili and the opposition candidate Grigol Vashadze- will be held later this month or early December.


Asia (General)

APEC 2018: Four Global Trends and a ‘Cold War’ Near the Equator
If current growth rates continue for another decade or so, China will outpace the US by the end of the 2020s, and the Asia Pacific Region will be able to steer world economic development and dictate the global political agenda.

As US-China Tussle and Joust, Russia Moves on SE Asia
From trade deals to arms sales to nuclear cooperation, Moscow is making its case as a third force competitor in the strategic region



Sino-Russian Trade Turnover on Track to Top $100bn this Year
Trade turnover between Russia and China was up by more than a quarter (28.2%) in the first ten months of this year to $87.2bn, putting the partners on course to top $100bn of total turnover this year, China’s General Administration of Custms said on November 7, as cited by Tass

Russia Draws Closer to Southeast Asia with Arms and Energy Trade
Putin to attend regional summit to build on economic and political cooperation

Cultural Genocide’: How China is Tearing Uyghur Families Apart in Xinjing
Every day, US-based Uyghur journalist Gulchehra Hoja tried to call her family in the Chinese region of Xinjiang. Sometimes she tries up to 20 different numbers, just hoping that someone will pick up.

A Milestone, Not a Turning Point: How China Will Develop the Russian Far East
Few noticed when Russia and China quietly signed a new program on developing trade and economic cooperation in the Russian Far East in 2018–2024. That new agreement may appear less extensive than the document it replaces, but it is also potentially more implementable. Just don’t expect any major breakthroughs.


EU Plan Unravelling for Non-Dollar Iran Trade, Oil Sales- Diplomats
A special European Union initiative to protect trade with Iran against newly reimposed U.S. sanctions faces possible collapse with no EU country willing to host the operation for fear of provoking U.S. punishment, EU diplomats said.

Retired Austrian Officer Suspected Of Spying For Russia
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Defense Minister Mario Kunasek deliver a press statement in Vienna on November 9.

Moldova Seeks to Warm Ties With Moscow
Moldova’s government is making a tentative step to rekindle currently chilly ties with Russia, sending its first delegation to Moscow in a year-and-a-half.



Moscow Accuses Bill Browder of Poisoning Sergei Magnitsky, as Russia is Expected to Win Interpol’s Next Presidency
Russian officials believe Magnitsky and several other “Browder criminal associates” might have been poisoned secretly with certain “chemicals containing aluminum compounds.”

Interpol Elects South Korean As President, Passing Over Russian Candidate
Interpol has elected a South Korean as its president, defeating a Russian candidate who was strongly opposed by the United States, Britain, and other European states.

Putin Says Russia Ready To Cooperate With Saudis And Curb Oil Output
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow is ready to cooperate with Saudi Arabia in cutting oil production to stem a big plunge in oil prices, but he said it is also content with the lower prices.



America is Now the World’s Largest Oil Producer
For the first time since 1973, the United States is the world’s largest producer of crude oil, according to preliminary estimates published on Wednesday by the Energy Department.

US Diplomatic Vacancies are Straining Alliances
Almost half the top jobs in the State Department are empty. In 18 countries, the White House has yet to designate a U.S. ambassador. That includes Australia, a close ally to America that is beginning to look to China instead.

House Democrats Plan to Bring Russia Back to the Forefront
After sweeping to victory in the House, Democrats plan to use their investigative powers next year to reopen the House’s Russia investigation, probe possible obstruction of justice and fight to ensure that special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings are not hidden from the public.

Lawmakers Frustrated as US says Russia Failed to Meet Chemical Weapons Deadline
The State Department told lawmakers Tuesday that Russia failed to certify that it is not using chemical weapons, missing a deadline set back in August after the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in the United Kingdom earlier this year.

US Midterms Make Putin’s Rocky Road to Trump Even Rockier
Americans weren’t the only ones closely watching US midterm results. Much of the world was too, including Russia. A Democratic House will complicate Vladimir Putin’s efforts to cut deals with President Trump.

Congress Likely to Shelve New Russia Sanctions as Clock Runs Out
Congress isn’t expected to pass legislation ordering new U.S. sanctions on Russia before the end of the year, as lawmakers focus instead on government spending measures, judicial nominations and a farm bill, key senators said.

James H. Billington, 89, Dies; Led Library of Congress Into Digital Age
James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress for nearly three decades, who led the nation’s treasure house of knowledge into the digital age and added millions of books, films and cultural artifacts to its historic collections, including a trove of tweets, died on Tuesday in Washington. He was 89.

Russia Protests Journalist’s Interrogation at US Airport
Russia’s Foreign Ministry is complaining that the interrogation of a website editor at a U.S. airport shows authorities are persecuting Russian journalists.

Oil Sanctions on Iran Will Benefit Russia. Here’s How.
U.S. Sanctions on Tehran create a strategic opportunity for Moscow.

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.