JRL NEWSWATCH: “China and Russia’s awkward romance” – Washington Post/Jonathan Hillman

Asia Map

“… China still towers above Russia in economic and demographic terms. With a long history of invasions, Russia’s paranoia about foreign powers approaching its borders will not vanish overnight. … Russian policymakers must be persuaded to take China’s economic power as seriously as the West’s military power. China’s grand ambitions run through Russia and its neighbors, but its investments and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Challenges U.S. in Hosting Taliban at Afghan Talks” – Bloomberg/Henry Meyer, Eltaf Najafizada

File Photo of U.S. NATO Troops Atop Ridge in Afghanistan

“Russia is challenging the U.S. by hosting the Taliban at a Moscow peace conference in the latest source of friction …. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who pressed Russia to cancel a similar meeting in September, sent four senior members of his nation’s High Peace Council … * * * Russia, which backs Taliban demands for a pullout of American forces, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Reaches Out to Afghan Leaders for Taliban Talks, Angering Kabul” – Reuters

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

“Russia has quietly invited a group of senior Afghan politicians to talks with the Taliban in Moscow, bypassing President Ashraf Ghani’s government in a move that has angered officials in Kabul who say it could muddle the U.S.-backed peace process. … confirmed … by six of the eight leaders, who include former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, or their aides, and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “‘Serious’ rivalry still drives China-Russia relations despite improving ties” – CNBC/Nyshka Chandran

Asia Map

“The strategic partnership between China and Russia, long marred by mutual suspicion, has risen to new heights with recent news of joint projects of more than $100 billion and large-scale army drills. But such cooperation belies the rivalry that defines the relationship between Chinese President Xi Jinping and … Putin …. Beijing’s economic and commercial activities in Moscow’s backyard – […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Moscow Courts the Taliban” – Carnegie Moscow/Arkady Dubnov

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

“… Despite all this, Russian diplomats considered the Taliban’s agreement to come to Moscow to be a success. Unofficial information from inside the Foreign Ministry indicates the great importance it attached to the Taliban leaders’ first official visit to Moscow. To guarantee their presence, the Russian government was willing to remove it from the list of organizations that are prohibited […]

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Russia Losing Out to U.S. in Central Asia, ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’ Says

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 31, 2018) “The situation in Central Asia and Kazakhstan where Moscow’s position has always been considered fixed is changing before our eyes,” the editors of Moscow’s Nezavisimaya gazeta say, and “the region is being transformed into a successful American place des armes.” That reflects the success of the Five Plus One […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Moscow Postpones Afghan Peace Talks; Decision comes after Afghan government declined an invitation to meet the Taliban” – Wall Street Journal/Jessica Donati and Ann Simmons

File Photo of U.S. NATO Troops Atop Ridge in Afghanistan

“Russia’s foreign ministry said … it has postponed a multilateral meeting on peace in Afghanistan after the Afghan government declined an invitation to meet the Taliban in Moscow. … The Taliban refused President Ashraf Ghani’s offer of a three-month cease-fire to coincide with the start of Eid al-Adha, a major Islamic holiday … officials say the insurgents have limited incentive […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Taliban Say They Will Attend Afghan Peace Talks in Russia” – New York Times/Rick Gladstone

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

“… The Taliban’s acceptance of an invitation by Russia to … Sept. 4 talks planned in Moscow was a reversal for the group, and came after the government of Afghanistan and its main supporter, the United States, declined invitations to attend. … the Taliban said … that the chief of their political office in Qatar would lead a delegation to […]

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Is This The Most Important Geopolitical Deal Of 2018?

(Oilprice.com – Olgu Okumus – August 13, 2018 – oilprice.com/Geopolitics/Asia/Is-This-The-Most-Important-Geopolitical-Deal-Of-2018.html) The two-decade-long dispute on the statute of the Caspian Sea, the world largest water reserve, came to an end last Sunday when five littoral states (Russia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan) agreed to give it a special legal status – it is now neither a sea, nor a lake. Before […]

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A Landmark Caspian Agreement — And What It Resolves

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – – Bruce Pannier – August 9, 2018- also appeared at rferl.org/a/qishloq-ovozi-landmark-caspian-agreement–and-what-it-resolves/29424824.html) It has taken more than 20 years. But on August 12, the leaders of Azerbaijan, Iran,  Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan will meet in the Kazakh port city of Aqtau, reportedly to sign a new convention on the legal status […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian pundit says migration policy needs to be ‘more open'” – Izvestia/Sergei Ryazantsev

Russian Migrant Workers file photo

In Izvestia, Sergei Ryazantsev argues: “… The United Nations rates [Russia] third after the United States and Germany in terms of number of immigrants. … in 2015 … the US population born overseas amounted to 46.6m; 12m went to Germany, 11.6m to Russia. Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kyrgyz, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and representatives of other republics of the former USSR began to come […]

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West, Russia ‘Share Interest’ In Afghan Stability, Top U.S. Commander Says

File Photo of U.S. NATO Troops Atop Ridge in Afghanistan

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – April 28, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/afghanistan-west-russia-share-interest-in-stability-top-u-s-commander-says/29197663.html) The West and Russia have a shared interest in Afghanistan’s stability, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has told RFE/RL. “We both share an interest in countering the terrorists who threaten our country and threaten Russia and threaten Central Asia,” General John […]

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‘Ruins of Empire in Sands of Central Asia’ – Russians Leaving Turkmenistan and ISIS Coming In

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 23, 2018) Russians constitute only two or three percent of the population of the Central Asian country of Turkmenistan, their departure having been accelerated by the economic crisis there and the Islamist threat from Afghanistan and Ashgabat’s closure of Russian-language schools and insistence that officials speak Turkmen. In an article on […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Uzbekistan’s new president tiptoes toward liberalization” – Washington Post

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

“Uzbekistan has a reputation – dismally earned by its long-time leader, Islam Karimov, who died last year – for torturing and incarcerating opposition critics, journalists and others. Mr. Karimov’s iron-fisted 27-year rule largely wiped out independent media and civil society. So it is encouraging to hear that President Shavkat Mirziyoyev may be changing direction. In Central Asia’s most populous nation, human […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia to spend $2.5 bln on Trans-Siberian, Baikal-Amur railroads. Investment is first stage in expanding railroad capacity to increase exports from Far East Russia.” – Asia Times

Russia Map

“Russian [sic] has approved US$2.5 billion to expand and modernize the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur railways as part of a larger rail project to boost economic growth and exports from the country’s Far East region that borders the Pacific Ocean. … Putin has given the green light for the government to allocate money from the National Welfare Fund for this stage of […]

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Russia setting priorities of its EAEU presidency – Medvedev

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

ASTANA. Aug 14 (Interfax) – The Russian presidency of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in 2018 will focus on trade barriers, interaction with international partners, labor standards, and support for exports, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council’s meeting in Astana on Monday. “Russia will be presiding in the Eurasian Union next year. We are setting […]

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CSTO Rift Grows Between Moscow And Astana

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Samuel Ramani – Aug. 6, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/qishloq-ovozi-csto-kazakhstan-russia-nazarbaev/28661553.html) Samuel Ramani is a DPhil candidate in International Relations at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, specializing in post-1991 Russian foreign policy. He is also a journalist who contributes regularly to The Washington Post, the Huffington Post, and Diplomat […]

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NEWSLINK: “Beijing stirs up Russia’s backyard” – bne Intellinews

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

“An invisible wedge has been growing between Russia and its Central Asian neighbours since Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine …. The unease is most particularly tangible in Astana. Any statements made by Russian officials that appear to put in question the statehood Kazakhstan gained after it was granted independence from the USSR prompt collective gasps. At the same time, China […]

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NEWSLINK: “Eurasian eyes turn east; Russia is more and more seeing China’s push West as an opportunity rather than a threat” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Asia Map

“… The relationship with the Chinese state began as a trade deal, but it has become progressively more political. It was not for nothing that when Xi Jinping took office in March 2013 his first trip abroad was to Moscow. To escape its blockade by the West, Russia has tried to shape the new emerging economies such as China into […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping] Press statements following Russian-Chinese talks

Asia Map

(Kremlin.ru – July 4, 2017) Vladimir Putin and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping made statements for the press following Russian-Chinese talks. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President Xi Jinping, ladies and gentlemen, The official visit to Russia by President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping is certainly the central event of this year […]

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Interfax: Lavrov warns U.S. against attempts to use extremists in Afghanistan as temporary allies

Sergei Lavrov file photo

MOSCOW. May 31 (Interfax) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Washington that the use of extremists in Afghanistan as temporary allies may have dangerous consequences. “If this is another attempt to use extremists as temporary allies to achieve some goals and then hope to take these extremists under their control, then this is an absolutely shortsighted tactic, it has […]

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NEWSLINK: “Afghanistan: No Way Forward” – Valdai Club/ Anatol Lieven

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

‘As the Afghan state becomes increasingly fragile as a result of internal divisions and the resurgence of the Taliban, its future prospects remain bleak. US-Russian cooperation on the issue remains unlikely ….”

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Replies to journalists’ questions (transcript continued)

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Kremlin.ru – May 15, 2017) Vladimir Putin answered media questions following a working visit to the People’s Republic of China. Question: Mr President, an international cyberattack was reported on May 12. It hit targets in 150 countries, including agencies, banks and companies in Russia. How much has this attack harmed Russia and the world in general? What can be done […]

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RUSSIALINK: “A CHINESE SILK NOOSE” – Valdai Club/ Georgy Toloraya

Asia Map

“… In response to the Chinese initiative, Russia advanced an even more ambitious project of a Greater Eurasian Partnership … incorporate[ing] the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and even the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). … However, Russia lacks the resources and integration ties with the numerous countries of the Euro-Pacific space for implementing this ambitious […]

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After the bomb: crisis management, Petersburg style; After last month’s metro attack, residents of St Petersburg remain defiant, if unruly.

Russia Map

(opendemocracy.net – Natalia Shkurenko – May 10, 2017) Natalia Shkurenok is a Saint-Petersburg based journalist, writing for The New Times, Snob, Colta, ArtNews Paper and Novaya Gazeta. Dozens of casualties, an unprecedented collapse of the city’s public transport system and arrests of people of “non-Slavic appearance” – these are the obvious consequences of the Petersburg metro attack on 3 April. […]

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Russia Still Migrant Magnet Even as Wages Stay Below China’s

Russian Migrant Workers file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – April 19, 2017) The vast pool of labor across Russia’s porous borders is relieving strains in the labor market, helping drain the economy of inflationary pressure as it accelerates after almost two years of recession. A steady flow of arrivals has continued even as shrinking wages and Russia’s worst currency crisis since 1998 […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Interview to Mir broadcasting company

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

(Kremlin.ru – April 12, 2017) Vladimir Putin gave an interview to Mir television and radio broadcasting company on the eve of his visit to Kyrgyzstan. The interview took place on April 11. President of Interstate Television and Radio Company Mir Radik Batyrshin: The Collective Security Treaty Organisation celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The benefits for Russia’s allies are clear. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Did St. Petersburg bombing bring Russia’s Syria intervention back home?” – Christian Science Monitor/ Fred Weir

St. Petersburg

“Though #Russia has been dealing with #terrorism for many years, it has mostly been rooted in domestic conflicts in the Caucasus. But Monday’s deadly bombing of a St. Petersburg metro seems likely linked to Russia’s involvement in Syria’s civil war. … analysts say that the identification of the bomber as Kyrgyz-born Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, from the turbulent central Asian city of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “A way to get real news to Russia; A U.S. attempt to counter disinformation takes shape in Current Time” – Washington Post

Satellite Dishes

… Current Time television, a product of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Voice of America, is a 24/7 Russian-language television network based in Prague … aimed at audiences inside Russia as well as the borderlands of the former Soviet Union. … intended to provide ‘fair and accurate reporting, serving as a reality check on disinformation that is driving conflict […]

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Re: Findings of Bipartisan Task Force on U.S. Policy Toward Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

Subject: Findings of Bipartisan Task Force on U.S. Policy Toward Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2017 From: Andrew S. Weiss <RussiaEurasiaProgram@carnegieendowment.org> http://carnegieendowment.org/specialprojects/TaskForceonUSPolicyToward RussiaUkraineandEurasia/ Dear Colleague, The breakdown in U.S.-Russia relations in the wake of the Ukraine crisis threatens the entire post-Cold War transatlantic security order. As the new administration prepares to reengage with Moscow, what principles should […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Challenging the U.S., Moscow Pushes Into Afghanistan. Russian inroads complicate U.S. efforts to strengthen the government, stamp out the Taliban and end America’s longest war.” – Wall Street Journal

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

“#Russia is making fresh inroads into #Afghanistan that could complicate U.S. efforts to strengthen the fragile #Kabul government, stamp out the resilient #Taliban insurgency and end America’s longest war. Moscow last month disclosed details of contacts with the Taliban, saying that it is sharing information and cooperating with the radical movement … to fight the local affiliate of #IslamicState, which […]

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RUSSIALINK Russia Direct: “Does Putin really intend to restore the Soviet Union? RD Interview: Professor Richard Sakwa from the University of Kent talks about Russia’s foreign policy and explains why Russia is creating alternative regional institutions such as the Eurasian Economic Union.”

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

“Despite the deteriorating state of relations between Russia and the West, experts and politicians continue to search for ways out of the crisis. Many blame Russia and President Vladimir Putin for the desire to restore the Soviet Union and pursue an authoritarian path of development. However, as other experts argue, such perceptions stem from a misunderstanding of Russia’s interests, goals […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Answers to media questions

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

(Kremlin.ru – September 17, 2016) Vladimir Putin answered questions from Russian journalists upon completing his working visit to the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. The President of Russia participated in a meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of State. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. What are we going to talk about? What would you like to know? Question: Mr […]

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RIA Novosti: Russian expert forecasts “quiet” power transfer in Uzbekistan

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

(RIA Novosti – August 29, 2016) The elite have been preparing for the current Uzbek President Islam Karimov’s departure from power for a long time – all those involved are interested in maintaining the current state of things. It is the opinion of Alexey Malashenko, an expert of the Moscow Carnegie Centre. The government of Uzbekistan on Sunday announced that […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Answers to media questions [Putin on Brexit)

Eurasia Map

(Kremlin.ru – June 24, 2016) Vladimir Putin responded to media questions at the end of his working visit to Uzbekistan to attend the SCO Heads of State Council, timed to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the SCO. Question: I would like to ask you about Brexit. Well before the vote, it was alleged that Russia would be happy if […]

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Russia’s militant migrant challenge

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

Russia’s terrorist threat has evolved. But the authorities are yet to evolve with it. (opendemocracy.net – Mark Galeotti – March 17, 2016) Mark Galeotti is Professor of Global Affairs at New York University’s SCPS Center for Global Affairs. He blogs on Russian security affairs at In Moscow’s Shadows and tweets as @MarkGaleotti. Why did Uzbek nanny Gyulchekhra Bobokulova call out […]

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Muscovites bring flowers to commemorate slaughtered girl, nationalists demand visas for Central Asia

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

MOSCOW. March 1 (Interfax) – Muscovites are bringing flowers to the Oktyabrskoye Pole metro station to commemorate a young girl, whose nanny was detained near the metro station on Monday with the girl’s head in her hands. There are lots of flowers, some with black ribbons, soft toys, chocolate, candies and candles near the entrance to the metro station. Pedestrians […]

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NEWSLINK: “Tajiks fear weaker Russian presence will open the way for ISIS. Locals in Tajikistan are worried about the possible reduction of Russian servicemen in the country, as the Islamic State militant organization grows in strength in neighboring Afghanistan.” – RBTH/Gazeta.ru

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Russia Seeks To Drive Wedge Into Central Asia

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Bruce Pannier – January 5, 2016) Russia appears to be practicing a bit of “divide-and-conquer” politics in Central Asia, and state-owned Gazprom is spearheading the campaign. On January 4, Russia’s main news agencies quoted a “source” within Gazprom Export, the Gazprom wing charged with handling gas imports from other countries, saying Russia would not be importing any […]

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NEWSWATCH Carnegie Endowment for International Peace/Eugene Rumer, Paul Stronski: “Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia at Twenty­Five-A Baseline Assessment”

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace undertakes an overview of former Soviet states two-and-a-half decades following the USSR’s collapse. For nearly twenty-five years following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia, Ukraine, and the rest of the former Soviet lands now collectively referred to as Eurasia defied the best and the worst expectations of students of the region’s history. Unfortunately, […]

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Kazakhstan down to 56th position, Russia climbs to 58th place in Prosperity Index

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

ASTANA. Nov 3 (Interfax) – Kazakhstan occupies 56th place in the Legatum Institute’s 2015 Prosperity Index, being one position down since the previous year. Norway retained the leading position; its first runner-ups are Switzerland, whose position was also changed, and Denmark. The top ten prosperous countries of the world also include New Zealand, Sweden, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Finland and […]

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Putin calls on CSTO to fight terrorist threat in Central Asia

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

The Collective Security Treaty Organization Summit, which took place in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe on Sept. 14-15, was chiefly devoted to countering the threat of Islamist terrorism in Central Asia. However, Russian experts believe that corruption and poverty are a greater threat to the region than terrorism. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Oleg Yegorov, special to RBTH […]

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Kazakh, Uzbek leaders reignite talk of succession

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Naubet Bisenov in Almaty and Olim Abdullayev in Tashkent – September 17, 2015) The issue of succession has become topical again in Central Asia’s largest countries – Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan – after the Kazakh leader appointed his daughter as deputy prime minister, while the Uzbek president was reported to have openly nominated his second […]

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NEWSWATCH Moscow Times/Sarah Lain: Russia Faces Facts on China

Eurasia Map

Writing in The Moscow Times, Sarah Lain, of the Royal United Services Institute, examines evolving Sino-Russian relations. Russia … cannot, and will not try to, compete with China’s growing economic influence … Russia’s leading multilateral economic foreign policy project … the Eurasian Economic Union … has … suffered from a variety of tensions …. Chinese investment via the Silk Road Economic Belt … could help […]

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NEWSLINK Christian Science Monitor: Islamist threat to Russia looms large at Central Asia security summit

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

The Kremlin is increasingly concerned about an Islamist uprising in one of the weak autocracies along its southern flank, all of which will be attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit today in Ufa, Russia

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How the Soviet Union Wrecked Russia’s Military-Industrial Complex

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – June 11, 2015) While Russia’s tussle with Ukraine may seem an unfair match, Ukraine does have one simple advantage – it makes a number of important vehicles and components that Russia needs to equip its military. After Moscow’s annexation of Crimea last year, Kiev brought its leverage to play and placed a […]

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