BERLIN/BEIJING (Own report) – At this week’s Asia-Europe Meeting in Brussels, the EU will introduce a new “connectivity strategy” to counter China’s “New Silk Road.” As outlined by the EU’s head of foreign policy in September, the strategy is aimed at improving transportation infrastructure as well as digital and energy networks linking Asia and Europe. Beijing is also active in these domains in connection with its Silk Road initiative. Recently, Germany’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched an initial thrust in this project. At the time, Minister of State Niels Annen (SPD) declared in Uzbekistan that social standards and human rights are “priorities” for Brussels. “This is what makes our offer different from China’s Belt and Road initiative.” For years, Germany had supported – even with military assistance – the Uzbek regime that was applying torture. Washington has also launched a new infrastructure initiative in Asia, to which US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the USA is committed to “honest accords” and would “never seek dominance over the Indo-Pacific.” Continue reading
The European Commission vice-president for energy union,Maros Sefcovic, said during a visit to Azerbaijan last week that the European Union was ready to negotiate Iran’s participation in the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), a system of pipelines designed to pump Azerbaijani gas from the Caspian region to southern Italy via Georgia, Turkey, Greece and Albania.
The European bloc is keen to get its hands on Iranian gas and has already held talks with Tehran on the issue. This means it is unlikely that the EU will budge on its opposition to US President Donald Trump’s demands for revising the Iran nuclear deal. Continue reading
Chinese missiles, tanks and drones find foreign buyers
In line with its increasingly sophisticated domestic arsenal, China’s arms exports have become much more technically competitive in the last 10 years; the 2015 U.S. Defense Department’s Annual Report on the PLA even stated that China’s ground systems in particular are globally competitive or nearly globally competitive. With selling points of low cost and affordable service, lack of geopolitical strings and upgrade packages, China has become the world’s third largest arms exporter behind the US and Russia. With a series of recent contracting wins against Russian firms, it looks to expand its market share.
The project is more than just a group of new transportation corridors linking China with Europe. In fact, the New Silk Road is a new model of economic partnership in Eurasia.
The initiative includes several transit corridors from western China to Europe which can be divided into three groups – the Northern Route, Sea Route, and the Southern Route. Continue reading
On January 19, 2016, the website of the pro-Kremlin think tank Valdai Club published a report by Andrei Kazantsev, director of the Analytical Center of the Institute for International Studies in Russia, titled “Central-Asia: Secular Statehood Challenged by Radical Islam.” Kazantsev wrote that post-Soviet Central Asian countries face a threat from radical Islam that impacts prospects for secular statehood and represents a serious obstacle to modernization of the region.
The following are excerpts from Kazantsev’s article:
“Post-Soviet Central Asian countries are facing problems caused by old security challenges and the emergence of completely new threats. These threats may influence the prospects for secular statehood in the region and represent a serious obstacle to modernization. One of the old security challenges is the situation in neighboring Afghanistan, where crisis phenomena are continuously aggravated. The most dangerous threat is posed by the concentration of militants in northern Afghanistan (on the border with Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan)… Continue reading
Russian President Vladimir Putin, once derided by Barack Obama as presiding over a “regional power,” is demonstrating Russia’s global reach not only in Syria and Ukraine but with new economic and political initiatives involving Pakistan. Continue reading
As was stated here before ahead of the trend, the West is punishing Russia by shooting itself in the foot while the Soviets are laughing all the way to the banks in Turkey and China.
The latest, spectacular “Exit South Stream, Enter Turk Stream” Pipelinistan gambit will be sending big geopolitical shockwaves all across Eurasia for quite some time. This is what the New Great Game in Eurasia is all about.
In a nutshell, a few years ago Russia devised North Stream – fully operational – and South Stream – still a project – to bypass unreliable Ukraine as a gas transit nation. Now Russia devises a new sweet deal with Turkey to bypass the “non-constructive” (Putin’s words) approach of the European Commission (EC) concerning the European “Third Energy Package”, which prohibits one company from controlling the full cycle of extraction, transportation and sale of energy resources.
Russian “defeat”? Really?
Turkey also made a killing. It’s not only the deal with Gazprom; Moscow will build no less than Turkey’s entire nuclear industry, and there will be increased soft power interaction (more trade and tourism). Most of all, Turkey is now increasingly on the verge of becoming a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); Moscow is actively lobbying for it. Continue reading
The EU would extend the route for supplies through the Southern Gas Corridor and its pipes will make their way further into Europe’s mainland, according to reports.
Russia’s Vedomosti, which cites sources from the European Commission, suggests that pipes could lead into France and Spain and this could increase the amount of Azerbaijani gas received from the Union.
According to the same EC representative, the prospects of importing from Turkmenistan and Iran are also on the agenda. Continue reading
Within this region, this is likely the final nail in the coffin as far as access for the US is concerned. Russia will now have the area 100% secured and sealed off both economically and militarily, yet more so economically as US military units would likely be sitting ducks in an isolated and hostile region. The Caspian Sea was also one of the main reasons for the pre-planned Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, as a gas pipeline was being brought from the sea into Georgia and on to Europe to help it diversify away from Russia.
A convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea will keep the sea free from any military facilities except of either Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Iran or Azerbaijan, according to nur.kz citing Kazakhstan’s KTK Channel.
The accord was reached between foreign ministers of the five Caspian states at talks held in Moscow.
Although the countries have been in dispute over delimitation of the sea bed for the last two decades, the diplomats came up with unanimous decision on alien military presence. Continue reading
At the end of September – early October, Russia and Iran will carry out joint military drills in the Caspian Sea to train maritime security-enforcement operations. Iranian military attaché to Moscow Col. Suleiman Adeli said: “Iran and Russia want Caspian states to maintain maritime security without interference of foreign states. They consider presence of foreigners a source of tensions and conflict.”
When they mention “foreign interference”, they usually keep the US in mind. Although, it is not only the US that has political, military-strategic and economic interests in the region. The EU and China have own palates. The reason why Caspian states arm themselves is terrorism, extremism, separatism and expansionism of the West. These are the new threats of the Caspian Sea. The US strategy in the Middle East remains a sensitive issue for the Caspian Sea, but the steps made in the Middle East to disrupt the balance of power by pressing on Syria may cause problems for all Caspian and Trans-Caucasus states. Continue reading
“With a subtle motion of the hand” China took away the Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Pakistan – India (TAPI) pipeline project from USA and became yesterday the chief controller of gas resources in Central and South Asia.
Somebody else’s ideas and plans have been expropriated by means of contract for sale of 25 bn cu m of gas per year concluded between State Concern Turkmengas and Chinese Company CNPC. The deal will increase the total volume of Turkmen gas supplied to China up to 65 bn cu m. At the same time the agreement is achieved on the planned new direction of Turkmenistan – China pipeline (D direction) for additional supplies. Continue reading
European countries are losing out to China in their quest to source natural gas from the Central Asian states.
Moving away from dependence on Russia and Middle East hydrocarbons was a key energy objective of European countries in the 1990s, and the oil and natural gas resources along the Caspian Sea was seen as a vital alternative.
Instead, European oil dependence on Russia and the Middle East has grown from 75% in 2000 to 84% by 2010. In addition, EU reliance on gas imports has also risen from 49% to 62% during the period. Continue reading
By opening its doors to India, Iran and Pakistan, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will increase its legitimacy and effectiveness among regional and international powers, and enhance its power posture in the international scene.
During the recent meeting of foreign ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan, the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi emphasized how the group has “actively pushed forward the regional cooperation.” He also reiterated that China would abide by its “policy of friendship and partnership with neighbouring countries.” This spirit of cooperation or what is referred in sections of media as ‘Shanghai Sprit’ was also reiterated during the meeting of defence ministers of the group held in last week of June 2013 in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. The widening of the SCO’s membership to include India, Iran and Pakistan will accrue numerous advantages to the group and strengthen its capacity to realise its goal of regional peace and stability. Continue reading
In a long-awaited decision to bring Azeri gas resources to Europe, the Shah Deniz II consortium opted for a pipeline running through Greece and Albania instead of a rival northwestern route, Nabucco West, running from Bulgaria to Austria.
The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) will stretch 870 kilometres from the Greek-Turkish border. Moving west, TAP is designed to extend across the breadth of northern Greece before veering northwest to Albania. From Fier, Albania, plans envision the pipeline crossing under the Adriatic to emerge in southern Italy. Continue reading