The dispute over newly established security zones on the Russia-Belarus border reveals that Moscow no longer sees Minsk as a reliable defense partner.
In any other post-Soviet country, the president’s choice of successor would have informed the choice of the ruling party, but not in Kyrgyzstan. There is a flurry of activity in Bishkek, which foreshadows a sharp collision at the Social Democratic party convention, and possibly a fracturing of the ruling party. As a result, the authorities may back a completely different candidate.
The Kremlin is still anxious about the expansion of Chinese influence in Central Asia, which is why it has turned the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, set up in order to work out widely accepted rules of the game for Eurasia, into a useless bureaucracy. Now, Beijing can develop relations with other SCO members without worrying about what Moscow thinks.
Moscow’s support for Moldovan President Igor Dodon doesn’t mean that it is trying to pull Chisinau away from the EU. The Kremlin realizes that its options in Moldova have become more limited in recent years, and it has tempered its expectations accordingly. Now, the Kremlin is trying to find a way to let Moldova enjoy free trade agreements with both the EU and the CIS.
The world will see the Kremlin as the culprit whether or not Denis Voronenkov’s murder is ever solved: for too long, Russian authorities have portrayed their country as one that doesn’t hesitate to violate every international norm—including by murdering their own citizens abroad.
The West’s reaction to the crackdown on protests in Belarus has so far been muted. Brussels noticed that Belarusian siloviki showed at least some restraint in their response, which indicates that all is not lost. Western diplomats don’t want to throw away years of progress toward convergence with Minsk because of something that could be written off as a brief spark of rage.
In the apparent battle between Uzbekistan’s two most influential politicians, security service head Rustam Inoyatov will have to either support the new president’s agenda, or attempt to return Uzbekistan to the way it was under the totalitarian late leader Karimov. But the resources he has to achieve the latter are getting smaller and smaller every day.
The parliamentary elections in Armenia aren’t just about President Serzh Sargsyan’s effort to stay in power by swapping his current post for the prime ministership. Armenia’s international allegiances are also up for grabs, leaving Moscow to choose between supporting some opposition politicians and simply throwing its weight behind the ruling party.
Putin’s recent trip to Central Asia showed that he is willing to pay Russia’s partners in the region for their geopolitical loyalty—even if some republics have refrained from joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
Declining hydrocarbon prices and a gas dispute with Russia have kept Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov from bringing back the luster and prosperity of Turkmenistan’s golden age. The next few years promise to be even harder for Turkmenistan’s economy, which is why parliament decided to extend Berdymukhamedov’s term in office from five to seven years.