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NEWS  / RUSSIA'S NEAR ABROAD
24.04.2007


Russia's Near Abroad
and
Foreign Relations

Februrary-March, 2007

I. Central Asia

Big Powers Jockey for Oil in Central Asia
It's not only Tajikistan where world powers have taken to flying their flags, especially since the 9/11 attacks focused attention on the dangers of state failure in this volatile region.

Russia Poised to Lead an Evolving Cartel of Gas-Exporting Countries
The Central Asian gas-exporting countries may be corralled against their will into an anti-Western cartel via Russia, unless the West gives Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan another choice.

Europe discovers Central Asia
In the 1990s, the only geopolitical players in Central Asia were Russia, the United States, China and some influential Muslim countries. Later on, the European Union came on the scene.

Iran, Russia, and the Caspian Sea
Russia and Iran continue to dispute legal ownership of the Caspian Sea including subsea mineral rights. While Russia has been successful in bringing two other Caspian littorals, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, around to its preferred median-line solution, it is finding it difficult to win round Iran and Turkmenistan…

KYGYZSTAN

The Difference between Moscow, Kiev, and Bishkek
The attitude of the authorities towards the street protests in the three capitals is differentiated mainly by the different political and historical moments in which the three countries find themselves.

'Color' Revolutions in Limbo
The scenes from Kiev and Bishkek are unsettlingly familiar…

Kyrgyzstan: Wilting Tulips
Ever since the "tulip revolution," when Askar Akaev, the authoritarian former president, was chased out of office by street protesters two years ago, the country has been in permanent political tumult.

KAZAKHSTAN

Kazakh Leader Urges Nation to Speak Russian
Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev has criticised his former Soviet nation for growing disrespect for the Russian language.

Soviet Nuclear Legacy Still Poisons Kazakhstan
This is partly blamed on meagre government funds and -- critics say -- insufficient official attention to the victims' suffering.

Nazarbayev Reassures Russia on Energy Cooperation
Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev, on a visit to Moscow, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to maintaining broad energy ties with Russia. Despite Nazarbayev’s pledge, however, Russian leaders remain concerned that Kazakhstan is trying to stake out a more independent energy position.

TURKMENISTAN

Turkmenistan: New Leader Brings Hope Of New Opportunities
Since the election of (a new) president… last month, the world has been wondering what course the notoriously closed country will take.

Putin Pledges to Further Energy Cooperation with Turkmenistan
Putin told his visiting Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov that Russia had launched a new leg of the gas pipeline system along the Caspian Sea and was pumping more than 5 million cubic meters of gas daily. He suggested the two sides to enhance cooperation in that aspect.

Possible May trial for imprisoned Baptist leader in Turkmenistan
Kalataevsky’s wife told Forum 18 News Service that she expects the trial, on charges of illegally crossing the border in 2001, to take place. 

GEORGIA

Georgia: Abkhazia Certain to Reject New "Peace Plan"
As summarized by Caucasus Press on April 11, the new Georgian peace proposal consists of three stages: first, the Georgian displaced persons who fled Abkhazia during the 1992-93 war would be permitted to return to their abandoned homes throughout Abkhazia..

Russia, U.S. Clash at U.N. Over Georgian Region
Russia and the United States clashed sharply over Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia on Tuesday as the United Nations Security Council debated renewing a U.N. mission in the Caucasus state.

Rice warns Russia against helping separatists in Georgia
The U.S. secretary of state has urged Russia to respect Georgia's territorial integrity and to stop supporting separatist republics within the South Caucasus nation.

U.S. Senate Approves NATO Entry for Georgia, Ukraine
Opinion surveys indicate that more than 50% of Ukrainian nationals are against joining the former Soviet Union's Cold War enemy.

World: Former U.S. Ambassador Discusses Georgia, Kosovo
Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and chief architect of the Dayton peace accords that ended the Bosnian war, remains a leading commentator on foreign affairs in the United States.

U.S. Rejects Abkhazia Elections
The United States rejected on Monday the elections by separatists in the Georgian territory of Abkhazia, stressing it supports Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Georgian Leader Criticises Russian Peacekeepers
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on Thursday criticised the Russian peacekeeping effort in his country's breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, effectively saying Russian troops should leave.

U.N. Finds Evidence That Russian Gunships Aided in Missile Attacks on Villages in Georgia
A United Nations observer mission in Georgia on Tuesday opened an investigation into missile attacks in three remote Georgian villages, and the initial evidence suggested that Russian helicopter gunships were involved.

Russian Embargo Accelerates Georgia's Opening to World
In the shadow of a ruined Soviet-era factory in Tbilisi stands the half-built sailing boat Sandro Ramishvili dreams will one day carry his family around the globe.

AZERBAIJAN

Russia Moves to Repair Ties with Azerbaijan
Vladimir Putin is intent on reducing tension with Azerbaijan, one of the Caspian Basin’s key energy producers.

Azerbaijan and Russia at Loggerheads
Baku’s response was to halt both the import of gas from Russia… and the export of oil to Russia. For good measure, from July Russian TV programs will no longer be retransmitted to viewers in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan Flexes Muscles in Fast-Growing Caucasus
At Baku's Caravansarai restaurant, once a rest stop on the Silk Road between Asia and Europe, a flickering blue gas flame symbolises a new shift in 21st century geopolitics.

TAJIKISTAN

Precarious Progress for US Ally Tajikistan
The Muslim state could be thrown back into disarray if problems in next-door Afghanistan spill over.

Tajik Leader Tells Nation to Drop Russian Names
Tajik leader Imomali Rakhmonov, in a flamboyant move to revive Persian roots in the former Soviet state, has ordered his people to drop Russian-style surnames and banned Soviet-era school festivals.

Russia to Build a New Oil Pipeline in Southern Europe 
Russia has signed an agreement with Bulgaria and Greece to build a 175-mile Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.  By bypassing the crowded Bosporus in Turkey, the $1.3 billion project is expected to increase oil supplies to Europe.   

Russia Wants a “Strategic Partnership with EU
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the European Union, President Putin has said that Russia had no intention of joining the European Union but looked forward to establish a “strategic Partnership” with EU. 

Chinese President in Moscow for Talks 
Chinese President Hu Jintao has been in Moscow for a three-day state visit, his third trip to Moscow since taking office in 2003.  The main focus of his visit, during which Hu has met with President Putin, was energy.

II. Eastern Europe

Russia to transport oil through the Balkans
The difficult, 14-year-long negotiations on an oil pipeline from Burgas in Bulgaria to Alexandroupolis in Greece, bypassing the Turkish straits of Bosporus and Dardanelles, are drawing to a close.

Opening Pandora's Box in Kosovo?
Russia sees the Kosovo rulling as a dangerous precedent for Russia.

ESTONIA

Statue Symbolizes Grudges Against Russia
Russians are appalled, and the Kremlin has warned of "irreversible consequences" for relations with Estonia.

Moscow Elite Deeply Divided on How to Deal with Estonia
The most senior levels of the Russian government are deeply divided on how to react to Estonia’s plans to move a memorial to Soviet war veterans.

Russians and Balts are Trapped by the Past
Russians think that Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians are arrogant…

Estonians Against Removal of Soviet-Era Statue
44 per cent or respondents oppose the government’s plan to take away the famous Bronze Soldier.

We Won't Forget We Were Victims of Both Nazi and Soviet Occupation
But communism was brutal too, says Margus Laidre, the ambassador of Estonia in London.

LATVIA

Russian President Meets Latvian Prime Minister
“We are well aware of how important Russian freight transit, port transit, is for Latvia, and how important our relations are in the energy and other sectors,” the president replied.

Russia and Latvia Sign Border Deal after 16 Years
They have disputed since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.

MOLDOVA

Moldovan Settlement Bad for Moldova and the West
...It makes weapons, ranging from cheap submachineguns to high-tech missile parts. The customers are unknown.

III. CHINA

Year of China in Russia
Official Website

Russia's Chinese Face
The Celestial Empire is expanding its presence in Russia

Balancing China in the Russian Far East
Russia pledges partnership with China in its resource-rich Far East regions, but reinforces its security there to show Beijing that the region is not up for grabs.

China, Russia Plan Mars Mission
A small Chinese satellite will take off on a Russian rocket…

China's Hu to Seek Energy Deals in Russia
China wants to pay less for the gas and it is unclear whether Russia has enough crude to satisfy China and Japan, which have been vying for supplies



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