Although Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan brought his energy minister along on a one-day visit July 18 to Moscow, it’s safe to assume that rather than oil and gas prices, the question of how to resolve the crisis in Syria dominated the discussion between Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
It’s clear that Russia and other authoritarian-minded, formerly Soviet states would like to turn out the lights on the Internet. Given their mood, an annual UN gathering, scheduled to be hosted by Azerbaijan in November, could emerge as a pivotal moment for web's future in Eurasia.
When it comes to the brewing arms race in the Caspian Sea region, no one can accuse Turkmen leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of navel-gazing. Ashgabat is now able to back its claims to some energy-rich patches of the sea with considerable firepower.
Uzbekistan on June 28 announced that it has suspended its membership of the Moscow-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), saying the organization ignores Uzbekistan and does not consider its views. The CSTO is largely billed as an antiterrorism organization and it includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan.
Though adept at Internet censorship and all-around snooping into private lives, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov’s regime in Turkmenistan seems incapable of thwarting citizens’ desire to communicate. As a result, it appears that popular pressure is prompting Berdymukhamedov to invite the Russian telecom provider MTS back to Turkmenistan.
Four years ago, Farida Hajimova’s husband left Tajikistan to work in Russia. After a time, he stopped calling. Ultimately, he never returned. She was left at home in Dushanbe with two daughters and not a lot of options. Now she says she has no choice but to follow in her ex-husband's footsteps -- not to find him, but to find work herself.
In the post-Soviet age, Russia has relied on military muscle and energy dominance to help it achieve its foreign policy goals. Soft power, meanwhile, is something that has always been missing from Moscow’s diplomatic arsenal. But Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin’s resident macho man, now seems intent on putting a kinder, gentler face on Russia.
Economics, not politics is prompting Russia to get tough with Kyrgyzstan, a top Russian diplomat based in Bishkek tells EurasiaNet.org. At the same time, the diplomat blamed the Kyrgyz government for delays in a hydropower deal, asserting that officials in Bishkek were politicizing the issue.
In a development that could influence Kyrgyzstan’s willingness to prolong the lease of the Manas Transit Center outside Bishkek, a US Embassy official has confirmed that a joint Kyrgyz-Russian venture is now delivering the majority of fuel consumed at the base.