The Soviet era brought heavy industrialization of the agriculture sector in Central Asia (CA), aiming at the expansion of cotton (called “white gold”) cultivation but also at an increase in cereals and other staple crops.
Several post-Soviet states are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Furthermore, two of the worst environmental disasters of our times – the Chernobyl nuclear accident and the Aral Sea desertification – happened in the post-Soviet region, with implications that have crossed state and time boundaries.
On 1 March 2021, a message posted on the official Coronavirus Info Telegram channel informed Uzbek citizens that “the first coronavirus vaccine in Uzbekistan ZF-UZ-VAC2001” had been approved. Following messages would contain infographics with images of vials of the “Chinese-Uzbek vaccine” decorated with the Chinese and the Uzbek flags.
The Uzbek minority of Kyrgyzstan has been a passive witness of the recent change of government of the country. This attitude is hardly surprising. The regime change was started by violent protests in the streets of the capital, Bishkek last October. This was the third of such upheaval in 15 years. During the previous “revolutionary” events in 2010, the Uzbek community, representing some 15 % of the population, became the target of extended ethnic violence which claimed up to 500 civilian victims. After that, no real national reconciliation took place.
On 23 June, Almazbek Atambaev, former president of the Kyrgyz Republic, was sentenced in Bishkek to 11 years of prison for his release of the mobster Aziz Batukaev in 2013. The court also mandated the confiscation of Atambayev’s properties that include luxury items, houses and several bank accounts, and the withdrawal of all his state awards.
On 2 May 2020, Kazakh President Kassim-Jomart Tokayev announced through a post on the presidential website the removal of Dariga Nazarbayeva from her position as chair of the country’s senate.
A new US strategy for Central Asia was released on February 5 in a launch event at “The Heritage Foundation” in Washington D.C.
In July 29, 2018, four Western cyclists were killed in Tajikistan's Danghara district by a group of five men who hit them with a car before stabbing them to death. In a video released after the attack, the five men appear to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State, while sitting under a tree in front of the Islamic State flag.
The European Council is currently working on a revised EU strategy for Central Asia - which should be launched by 2019 - redefining its policy towards the region following the developments that changed its geopolitical landscape in the last decade.
Since the late 1990s, Russia began to challenge the legitimacy of the new US-centric international order, together with its unipolar perspective, undisputed at the time. However, it was only after Putin’s rise to power in 2000 that Moscow started to effectively pursue this narrative and to demand that the West, and Washington in particular, acknowledged its own strategic interests.
The Caucasus has been defined as a “broken region” by both practitioners and scholars. Although the regional “protracted” conflicts clearly represent a stumbling block to the development of inclusive cooperation schemes, nevertheless the “broken region” interpretation seems to hide a Western prejudice – i.e. a tendency to label as inefficient or ruinous any political relations regulated by values and interests different from the Western ones.
Stuck in the middle of different as well as relevant regional complexes, the Caspian Sea basin represents a critical geopolitical hub in the heart of Eurasia landmass.
Political, economic as well as strategic considerations contribute to determine the systemic relevance of the Caspian Sea, whose reputation in the West is mainly linked to the vast availability of largely untapped oil and gas resources. However, behind the fierce competition aimed at the exploitation and transportation of the basin's hydrocarbons lies a much more complex picture, consisting of interlinked legal, military and soft power issues and threats.
Aim of the volume – result of a joint research project conducted by the Center for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SAM, Baku) and the Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI, Milan) – is to address the relevance of the Caspian Sea in the post-bipolar international system, analyzing both soft and had security threats emerging form the basin, as well as the policies of littoral and extra-regional actors.