Western Programs Behind Increase in Border and Enclave Disputes in Central Asia, Prokhvatilov Says

Russian Soldiers Marching

(Paul Goble – Window On Eurasia – Staunton, May 2, 2021) No one disputes that there are enough reasons on the ground for conflicts among the countries of Central Asia over borders and enclaves, but according to Moscow military analyst Vladimir Prokhvatilov, the number and intensity of such conflicts has increased because of Western civil society programs (fondsk.ru/news/2021/05/01/mjagkaja-sila-i-prigranichnye-konflikty-v-centralnoj-azii-53486.html). According to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Kyrgyzstan Sets New Polls as New PM Reassures Russia” – AFP

Bishkek file image, adapted from image at state.gov

“Kyrgyzstan’s electoral authorities said … parliamentary polls … would be repeated [Dec. 20] …. [A]cting leader Sadyr Japarov moved to assure Russia of the two countries’ strategic partnership. … [The] previous [Kyrgyzstan] vote was annulled over political chaos that unseated a president and rattled Russia. … Allegations of vote-buying … raised by international monitors and losing parties sparked a protest […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “With unrest on all sides, Russia’s regional muscle is being tested” – Washington Post/ Isabelle Khurshudyan

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“… As Russia’s interests abroad have focused on building the country’s standing as a player on the global stage – including malicious operations such as trying to influence U.S. presidential elections – the Kremlin’s grip has weakened closer to home. Competition from Turkey, China and the West is increasingly challenging Moscow’s onetime dominance in the former Soviet space. … [and] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Loses His Footing in Russia’s Backyard” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium with United Russia Logo, Gesturing

“Washington has watched Russia expand its global influence, but along its borders, Moscow is losing its monopoly on power.” “… Putin has long tried to strengthen economic and defense relations across Eastern Europe and Central Asia …. Russia still has military bases in Central Asia and the South Caucasus … [T]here are strong commercial and cultural ties …. But … […]

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Thousands Back In Bishkek Streets Demanding ‘Clean’ Politicians For New Government

Bishkek file image, adapted from image at state.gov

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – BISHKEK, Oct. 7, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/kyrgyzstan-fresh-protest-bishkek-clean-politicians-new-government/30880061.html) Thousands have headed back onto the streets in Kyrgyzstan as rival opposition factions look to gain power after violent mass protests forced the annulment of weekend election results over alleged vote buying and prompted the prime minister […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Colin Powell suggests media had ‘hysterical’ reaction to Russian bounty reports” – New York Post/ Sam Dorman

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

“… Colin Powell indicated … that media figures overreacted to a recent report that Russian officials placed bounties on … U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. ‘What I know is that our military commanders on the ground did not think that it was as serious a problem as the newspapers were reporting and television was reporting,’ Powell [said] … ‘It got kind […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Why we need a little skepticism, and more evidence, on Russian bounties” – The Hill/ David B. Rivkin, Jr., George S. Beebe

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

“… [1][H]ow credible are the sources? … not very. … militants and criminals captured and interrogated by Afghanistan’s government. … Captured militants frequently tell … interrogators things they hope … [bring] lenient treatment. Others relate … little more than hearsay. … [2][W]hat other information might support or disconfirm the allegations? …. [I]f the Times report of large financial transfers … […]

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What Does Russia Want In Afghanistan?

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

… Trump tweeted that the intelligence reports were not deemed credible and the Kremlin and the Taliban have rejected reports alleging that officers of the GRU – Russia’s foreign military intelligence — either paid or offered money for killing American soldiers […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Return to Kabul? Russian Policy in Afghanistan” – David G. Lewis/ George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

Soviet Era Afghan Soldiers with Flag

“… Moscow has publicly supported the current U.S.-Taliban peace talks … [yet] has a very different perspective from the U.S. … influenced by geography and history. Russia’s current strategic posture is informed by a long history of relations with Afghanistan and above all … the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, a strategic and military failure … still fresh in […]

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In New ‘Great Game.’ West Wants to Use Central Asia against Russia and China, Vinnik Says

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 20, 2020) When the USSR disintegrated, Western countries tried to establish conventional relations with the countries of Central Asia, setting up military bases and expanding security arrangements in order to strengthen the independence of these regimes both internally and from Moscow, Dmitry Vinnik says. But that policy has failed, according to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin wants new connection between Arctic coast and Indian Ocean; The construction of a railway line to Sabetta is what is needed, the president argues” – The Barents Observer/ Atle Staalesen

Asia Map

“… ‘The idea is to connect the ports on the Northern Sea Route with the ports of the Pacific and Indian Oceans by means of transport arterials through Eastern Siberia, the heartlands of Eurasia,’ … [Putin said to Valdai] conference participants. … [such as] Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, King of Jordan Abdullah II, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Filipinian leader […]

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Awakening a new generation of activists in Eurasia; An emerging young, urban population has begun to challenge the lasting legacies of the Soviet era

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Opendemocracy.net – Erica Marat – September 5, 2019) Erica Marat, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the College of International Security Affairs, National Defense University. She is the author of The Politics of Police Reform: Society against the State in Post-Soviet Countries (Oxford University Press, 2018). A new wave of anti-government mobilization has swept across the Eurasian countries that once […]

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Russia Becoming Part of Central Asia after Trying to Leave It Behind, Kuzmin Says

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 23, 2019) Many Russians were pleased that the demise of the Soviet Union meant that the rapidly growing Muslim populations of the Central Asian republics were beyond the state borders of the Russian Federation and thus would no longer be a brake on the desire of Russians for development and even […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Approves ‘Shortest’ Europe-China Highway – Reports” – Moscow Times

Asia Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 8, 2019) [Text with map themoscowtimes.com/2019/07/08/russia-approves-shortest-europe-china-highway-reports-a66318] The Russian government has approved construction plans for a toll highway that will dramatically cut cargo shipping times between Europe and China, the Vedomosti business daily reported. Russia is pursuing an ambitious infrastructure plan in President Vladimir Putin’s current presidential term, including developing its portion of the strategic […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Opponents of building church in Yekaterinburg hurl smoke charges near Moscow patriarchal residence” – Interfax

Patriarch Kirill file photo

MOSCOW. May 16 (Interfax) – Two masked individuals staged a protest against building a church in a square in Yekaterinburg near Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill’s Moscow residence on Thursday. “Two masked individuals unrolled a poster saying ‘Apologize for Yekaterinburg’ and hurled smoke charges. Their accomplices have recorded this event on a video, all of them got in […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russian general warns of Central Asia ‘crisis’ by 2020” – Interfax

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

(Interfax – May 15, 2019) A senior Russian general has issued a warning about the worsening security situation in Central Asia, including in Afghanistan, suggesting the region could experience a crisis by next year. “In the Central Asia strategic zone there remains a steady tendency of a worsening military-political situation, which by 2020 is capable of reaching crisis-level significance,” Col-Gen […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia sees major integration capacity in China’s One Belt One Road project – Putin” – Interfax

Map of China and Environs, adapted from image at cdc.gov

SOCHI. May 13 (Interfax) – The relations between Russia and China are developing successfully, while Moscow views China’s One Belt – One Road initiative as fruitful and substantive, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “At the beginning of talks I would like to convey the best wishes to my friend [Chinese President Xi Jinping] for warmness, with which we have been […]

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Putin, Dozens Of Other Leaders Gather In China For ‘Belt And Road’ Summit

Asia Map

(Article text ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – April 25, 2019 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/dozens-of-world-leaders-arrive-in-china-for-belt-and-road-forum/29902631.html) Leaders from dozens of countries have begun arriving in Beijing to attend the April 25-27 Belt and Road Forum. China’s $1 trillion Belt and Road initiative seeks to create new rail, road, port, and energy infrastructure that links […]

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Hearing on “An Emerging China-Russia Axis? Implications for the United States in an Era of Strategic Competition” – U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

March 21, 2019 The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission: Hearing on “An Emerging China-Russia Axis? Implications for the United States in an Era of Strategic Competition” [Text with video and links to testimony: uscc.gov/Hearings/emerging-china-russia-axis-implications-united-states-era-strategic-competition] Agenda Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 419 9:30 AM – 9:35 AM: Opening Remarks: Chairman Bartholomew and Commissioner Kamphausen 9:35 AM – 11:05 AM: Panel […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Tatiana Stanovaya explains why Putin won’t go like Nazarbayev” – Meduza

Kremlin and River

“… Tatiana Stanovaya says Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s resignation won’t likely affect … Putin’s transition-of-power calculus in the way that many observers have speculated. She argues that Kazakhstan’s unique political traditions, elite structure, and society, not to mention the country’s fundamentally different geopolitical conditions, mean that Nazarbayev’s exit doesn’t work as a model for Putin, though the Kremlin will pay […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “China, Russia Stand to Gain From Kazakhstan’s Political Transition; New president aims to maintain nation’s security ties to Moscow, economic links to Beijing” – Wall Street Journal/ Ann M. Simmons, Thomas Grove

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

“A smooth political transition after the unexpected resignation of Kazakhstan’s longtime leader serves the interests of neighboring Russia and China …. [S]ince the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has shouldered the region’s military burden, while China has provided the impulse for economic growth, a system Kazakhstan has embraced …. On Tuesday, Nursultan Nazarbayev, a 78-year-old autocrat who has ruled […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Nazarbayev to retain position of Kazakh Security Council head, Nur Otan party leader” – Interfax

File Photo of Nursultan Nazarbayev and Barack Obama with Flags

ASTANA. March 19 (Interfax) – Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has stepped down as Kazakh president, will carry on as chief of the country’s Security Council. “You have put your trust in me all these years. I was happy to serve the people. I bow my head and express gratitude. I worked hard to fulfill the will of the people. I will […]

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Left behind? Russian life in Chechnya; After years of violence, displacement and an authoritarian peace, what is life like for ethnic Russians in the most mono-ethnic and mono-faith area of Russia? (excerpt)

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

(Ekaterina Neroznikova – opendemocracy.net – March 6, 2019) Ekaterina Neroznikova is a reporter and columnist who writes about the North Caucasus. She writes for a number of publications about politics, international relations and human rights in Russia. Ekaterina Neroznikova is a reporter and columnist who writes about the North Caucasus. She writes for a number of publications about politics, international […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The New Cold War’s Warm Friends; Why Chinese and Russian detente may be here to stay” – Foreign Policy Magazine/ Chris Miller

Asia Map

“… Fifty years later, the situation has reversed. China and Russia have settled … border disputes and … become fast friends. Their main area of agreement: opposition to the United States …. The last era of partnership between China and the Soviet Union lasted scarcely a decade before descending toward war …. [T]oday’s Russia-China entente may prove more durable. … […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Lessons for Leaders: What Afghanistan Taught Russian and Soviet Strategists ” – Russia Matters/ Simon Saradzhyan

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

“… the Soviet leadership made a number of mistakes, first when contemplating whether to intervene in Afghanistan, then during the intervention and, finally, when withdrawing the troops. Some of these mistakes were particularly costly, such as the failure to take full stock either of the hierarchy of vital national interests at stake in Afghanistan or of the costs and benefits […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Meeting with representatives of the public: the Housing and Urban Environment national project” – KremlinRu

Kazan file photo

(Kremlin.ru – February 12, 2019) During his trip to Tatarstan, Vladimir Putin visited the Moskovsky Centre of Culture and Sports in Kazan where he met with representatives of the public. The President said in his opening remarks that he was beginning a series of meetings with the public on the implementation of national projects. The meeting in Kazan focused on […]

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Russia and China Beyond Realpolitik: The Bond of Respect and Values

Asia Map

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Jeanne L. Wilson – February 4, 2019) Jeanne Wilson teaches at Wheaton College where she is the Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of Russian studies, a professor of political science and coordinator of the school’s international relations major. She is the author of “Strategic Partners: Russian-Chinese Relations in the Post-Soviet Era.”  This op-ed is part of a new debate from […]

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NEWSLINK: “Jihadists from Ex-Soviet Central Asia: Where Are They? Why Did They Radicalize? What Next?” – Russia Matters/Edward Lemon, Vera Mironova, William Tobey

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

“… This research paper attempts to answer four basic sets of questions adapted from the ones mentioned in the foreword: (1) Is Central Asia becoming a new source of violent extremism that transcends borders, and possibly continents? (2) If so, why? What causes nationals of Central Asia to take up arms and participate in political violence? (3) As IS has […]

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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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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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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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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: “Russia’s Evolving Grand Eurasia Strategy: Will It Work?” – Carnegie Moscow Center/ Dmitri Trenin

Asia Map

“With a shift in strategy, 2014 was a pivotal year for Russia’s foreign policy. It was then that Moscow began moving away from its traditional focus on Europe and the Atlantic, with secondary attention to the former Soviet borderlands. The Ukraine crisis served as the coup de grâce for the two concepts that had guided Russian foreign policy since the […]

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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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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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