Nikola Mikovic, Syndication Bureau
The writer is a political analyst in Serbia. His work focuses mostly on the foreign policies of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, with special attention on energy and ‘pipeline politics’. Syndication Bureau.
Two years after the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan, countries around the world have begun normalizing ties with the Taliban. Central Asian states are no exception. But amid fears that the Afghan rulers could destabilize the region or create a water crisis, and with China and Russia heavily influencing regional security, Central Asian countries are proceeding cautiously.
Russia’s recent decision to suspend participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a UN-backed agreement that has allowed Ukraine to export food during the ongoing conflict, will have repercussions that go beyond threatening global food security.
Russia and Iran hope that the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) could be a game-changer for global trade. Even though the project is still far from being fully operational, officials from both countries have repeatedly framed the corridor as an alternative to the Suez Canal.
For Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Vladimir Putin is a “dear friend” who reportedly warned him that factions within the army were planning a coup in 2016.
Tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia are threatening to destabilize the South Caucasus, prompting some to worry that Iran could eventually be pulled into a wider regional conflict. But is Iran really prepared to invade its Shia-majority neighbor to protect Armenia, or are recent military moves little more than bluster?
Even as Russia struggles to achieve military and political success in Ukraine, its leaders have turned their attention to another regional objective: restarting business in the “graveyard of empires”.
The war in Ukraine has laid bare Russia’s military weaknesses, and a key area of concern for the Kremlin is the health of its navy. With the Russian Black Sea Fleet an easy target for Ukrainian anti-ship missiles, Moscow is eyeing alternatives, including a long-planned naval base in Sudan.
While Russia and Iran do not always concur, their status as pariahs of the West has pushed them to work as an “axis of the sanctioned”. One way this has materialized is through the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a 7,200-km network of road, rail, and shipping routes designed to move freight between India, Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia, and Europe.
Central Asia and the South Caucasus have long been within Russia’s geopolitical orbit. But as the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine stumbles on, Turkey is looking to take advantage by increasing its influence in the strategically important regions.
As Russia’s war in Ukraine enters its ninth month, Turkey has emerged as one of the conflict’s most important external actors. With most global powers choosing sides, Ankara has managed to preserve ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, positioning itself as a key mediator in ending the conflict.