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The Central Asian rollout of China’s infrastructure construction program,
the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has become a boon to Kyrgyzstan. There are
big plans for the future, but also troubles on the horizon. Mounting anger over
China’s predatory practices as a lender and investor, and concern for the
abused Muslim Uighurs in China, have fed nationalistic, anti-China sentiment
among the Kyrgyz population.
Russia & Central Asia
Professor Stefan Hedlund
Long neglected by all but devoted regional specialists, Turkmenistan has recently begun to matter in
international politics. The reason is a sharp drop in energy prices, which has
turned the gas-rich country into an economic basket case, and the deteriorating
security situation in Afghanistan. Both developments have Russian and Chinese
policymakers concerned about their vital interests in Central Asia.
Russia’s special forces have gained prominence and valuable combat experience in recent years playing crucial roles in Crimea and Syria. Now they are training to engage their NATO counterparts. As a result, Western militaries have been forced to change the way they approach this threat. Though Russian special forces are still playing a game of technological catch-up, they are a tool the Kremlin is increasingly likely to use.
The rise of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to power in Uzbekistan has brought with it economic reform and billions of dollars in new investment. The country desperately needs foreign partners, both to diversify its economy and strengthen its military. China and Russia, respectively, have stepped in to play these roles. At the same time, the U.S. is withdrawing from the region. As the influence of Beijing and Moscow grows, President Mirziyoyev’s options will shrink.
The Strategic Rocket Forces branch of Russia’s military is getting upgrades for its missiles and improved methods for delivering them. Moscow’s key goal is to maintain the ability to “escalate to deescalate” – likely with nuclear weapons – in case of any confrontation with NATO. With Cold War arms control structures breaking down, Russia’s vulnerabilities are becoming more exposed, increasing the potential for conflict.
In 2019, the geopolitical interplay between Russia, Ukraine and Europe will depend on their leaders. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin will have to decide whether to continue his assertive foreign policy. In Ukraine, the presidential election could bring the mercurial Yulia Tymoshenko to power – how she will deal with the war in the east remains a mystery. In Europe, the Franco-German alliance is losing traction. Rifts in the EU will deepen, making it impossible to present a united front on the challenges Russia and Ukraine present.
The drawdown of American
troops in Afghanistan and Chinese persecution of the Muslim Uighur minority in
Xinjiang could turn Central Asia into a hotbed of jihadist terrorism. One
country that is particularly vulnerable to such a resurgence is Tajikistan. It
is also the area where Russian and Chinese security interests could most easily
come into conflict.
When Angela Merkel finishes her term as German chancellor in 2021, it will mark the end of an era. Love her or hate her, this shrewd political operator has had a huge impact on Germany, Europe and the wider geopolitical scene. This GIS Dossier compiles our experts’ analysis of her policies and the effects they have had across the globe.
most important part of Europe’s security perimeter in the 21st
century may be its southern rim. The migration crisis of 2015 was only a
foretaste of the demographic, economic and political pressures that are
building up in the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. Yet the approaches tried by
European powers in this vital and growing region have generally failed. They
need to get it right as new rival enters the neighborhood – China.
Moscow’s propaganda touting
the scale of its military maneuvers notwithstanding, the country does not command
nearly enough ground forces to defeat NATO or China in a protracted open conflict.
The Russian Federation also does not have the demographics to expand its armies
significantly. Its military planners, however, have been demonstrating an
impressive dexterity in finding ways to address the changing defense needs of
the Eurasian colossus.