Eurasia: Trends and Forecast for 2016
When we say Eurasia, we don’t mean the continent, but the former Soviet Union geopolitical space, which unites Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, South Caucasus and Central Asia. Although some of them aren’t related to the Eurasian integration project, and some of them are even against it, somehow, all the former Soviet republics are in the vicinity and under the influence of the Russian Federation, who is a key player in this process.
After the conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008, the current president Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia had a special interest area that extended to the CIS countries. The West rushed to accuse Moscow of imperial ambitions, while the Kremlin said that every country had its own national interests that weren’t limited by their boundaries. It predetermined the furthering of Russia’s and the West’s political aspirations, and the final priorities were set up after the political crisis in Ukraine in 2013, which ended in a coup d’etat in February 2014 with the US and EU’s financial and diplomatic support. Further developments led to a referendum in the Crimean Autonomous Republic, where the reunion with Russia was decided, the armed conflict in the southeast of Ukraine and the creation of unrecognised Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republic.
In 2015, Russia strengthened its position in Crimea, deploying additional troops there. The bridge linking the peninsula with the Krasnodar region was built very quickly, which, at the end of 2015, launched the first branch of power.
The Lugansk and Donetsk Republics consistently received humanitarian aid from Russia. The country didn’t take any military-political steps, performing instead as the mediator in various negotiations with Kiev.
The West used the Ukrainian crisis for its own purposes, including reducing the vector of Eurasian integration. However, the deterioration of the relations between Moscow and Kiev will not affect the foundation of the Eurasian Economic Union, although it forced some CIS countries not to rush in making the decision to join the union.
Eurasian Economic Union
In October 2011, Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of the Eurasian integration process, which received a nervous reaction from the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying that Russia is trying to revive the Soviet Union. The documents on entering the Eurasian Economic Union were signed in 2014 by Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Belarus. Later Kyrgyzstan joined it. On January 1, 2015, the EAEU started officially performing, the customs and border barriers were eliminated, with a unified labor law, the united standards of products and services bring created.
Currently the member-states occupy 14% of the world's land area with 182.5 million people. Tajikistan is a candidate to be accepted to the EAEU. Many countries show their interest in the project, which originally was economic in its nature, but, nevertheless, it obviously has geopolitical importance. The coup d'etat in Ukraine was held under the slogan to abandon the Eurasian integration and to enter the EU and NATO. Although Belarus took an ambiguous position in the Ukrainian crisis and offered the mediator role (as a result the Minsk talks were held there), the ratification of all EAEU documents was held according to the plan. All members of the association regularly came to the planned events to continue work on the economic, financial, trade, customs, energy and infrastructure policy.
In addition, the EAEC member-states may enter into agreements with common projects that are also implemented on the continent. At the SCO and BRICS summit in July 2015 in Ufa (Russia), it was stated that the New Silk Road project, offered by China to Central Asia, would be united with the Eurasian Economic Union project. The first round of negotiations between the EEU and China to unite the EAEC and the Silk Road is to be held in early 2016.
Most likely, the initial phase is to discuss the creation of the free trade zones and the special economic cooperation regime. China is interested in expanding the market of its goods and services, as well as the promotion of the transport corridor to the EU borders (it can be done through cooperation with the EAEU, as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have common borders with China, and Russia and Belarus with the EU countries).
The Summits of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (SEEC) were held in Moscow in December 2015. The CSTO brings together all the countries of the EAEC, so in the near future the close coordination between the two organizations is possible.
The various project integration ideas will be also increasingly noted in the leading political grounds. In December 2015 the President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev said that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Eurasian Economic Union must develop close interaction, and, in the future, they could be united into one organization.
Despite the speculations on the possible EAEU extension, it is hard to expect new member accession in 2016, except Tajikistan. According to Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, in the near future, the country doesn’t plan to join the EAEU, as it didn’t receive any offers from the respective member-states. Uzbekistan is also in no hurry to join the project.
At the beginning of 2016, the EAEU Customs Code is to appear, and then, on the basis of the practical results of the work on the new customs rules, the other countries could express their interests in joining the organization. However, the ratification and, therefore, the start of the new code is expected only by the end of the year.
Russia in 2016
In 2016, the issue of preventing the re-export of the products prohibited for importation into the Russian Federation through the EAEU members’ territory will remain urgent for Russia. Primarily, it is the question of food goods. In 2014, in connection with the situation in Ukraine, the European Union and the United States imposed sanctions on entire Russian economy sectors. In response, Russia limited food imports from the USA and the EU member-states, Canada, Australia and Norway. However, according to some information, such goods continue to arrive in the Russian Federation through Belarus, for example.
The problem of terrorism and extremism export in Russian will remain at the high level. In December 2015, a number of laws that empower the security services were adopted, and the five coastal regions organized operational counter-terrorism centers. The following year, the trend to strengthen security will remain, although the risk of individual terrorist acts will still high too.
September 18, 2016 the Russian parliamentary elections will take place. Unlike previous years, half of the deputies of the State Duma will be elected directly. This will be a serious test for the ruling party the United Russia, which was recently criticized for failing to solve social problems, corruption and adoption of laws unclear to the population.
The USA and the West are most concerned about the state of the Russian economy, as inflation and stagnation can cause social discontent, which will be used by Washington and Brussels for their own political interests. It is unlikely that we can expect large-scale protests, such as the Liberals White Ribbon Movement, whether it is for economic reasons or dissatisfaction with the results of the parliamentary elections. The ruble devaluation will not be as sharp as at the end of 2014. In addition, the projected gradual increase in oil prices, and rising gas prices, can supplement the Russian Federation budget.
Since the USA and the EU has no further understanding of the Kremlin, they will be anxious to see if Russia will make some strategic surprises in 2016. Russian troops in Syria, and especially the use of new weapon types, such as the Corvette cruise missiles, were unpleasant surprises to the West. The USA failed to break the Kremlin neither by economic sanctions nor by indirect action through its partners. The provocation of the Russian bomber shoot down in Syria, which was initiated by the US’ agents, didn’t lead to a direct military conflict between Russia and Turkey. America was unable to undermine the Russian arms exports on the world market. Some European countries found that the United States continued intensive cooperation with Russia in a number of sectors, which caused the confusion and understanding that Washington misled them so that they could take this opportunity themselves.
In the international arena, Russia will continue to deepen cooperation with its close partners in the SCO and the BRICS. There are prospects for a breakthrough in several areas with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which can compensate for the agricultural products import from countries under Moscow's sanctions. Russia will also be active in the Islamic world, especially in Arab countries, as the military action in Syria pushes them to do it.
It will also continue to search for new markets for Russian products, raw materials and services in the Asia-Pacific region, Africa and Latin America.
The Russian-Ukrainian relations at the political level should not expect a breakthrough. Russia chose a strategy of Ukrainian exhaustion, whose economy is close to collapse. Kiev is insolvent, dependent on Russian energy resources and mutual sanctions regime. As for military intervention, Russia is ready to interfere in the territories of the DPR and/or the LPR, if it will be forced by Kiev and their NATO allies’ actions. Moscow understands that the coup d'etat in Ukraine in 2014 was carried out to demonize Russia and to militarize the nearest neighboring countries under the NATO “umbrella”. Meanwhile, we can hardly expect a Russia military intervention in the rest of Ukraine. Rather, Moscow will watch the neighboring country’s political strife and, if it is necessary, support one side or another. However, the more efficient mechanism for the Kremlin is the influence through the EU, thus, the efforts to expand its agency in the legislative branch of the European countries and the European Parliament will continue. As the EU and Russia’s official relations are minimized, it will not be so easy. It is likely that Putin will use his personal friends such as Silvio Berlusconi in Italy and Gerhard Schroeder in Germany, to influence the political situation in Europe.
The development of the Russian Arctic region and the Northern Sea Route is important. In 2015, Russian armed forces completed the reconstruction of several military bases located in the Arctic Circle and made successful large-scale maneuvers. The region will receive special attention in 2016.
In October 2015, the Republic of Belarus had the next presidential elections, in which President Alexander Lukashenko won again (83.5%). On the eve of the vote, the political opposition was granted amnesty, and a state of emergency was practically introduced. The country is actually in manual mode, where there are no signs of the political alternative’s appearance in the near future. If the Central Asian countries raise public servants salaries on the eve of elections or immediately after them, the difficult economic situation in Belarus is not allowed to do it.
The national currency inflation in 2015 will continue, most likely, this trend will remain in 2016.
In July, the IMF mission visited Minsk, which discussed with the country’s leadership the possibility of allocating credit of $3.5 billion. A mandatory condition is the privatization of public sector reform. The IMF “road map” suggests to reform the system of support for vulnerable people within three years (2016-2018), the increase of housing tariffs in a five year period (2016-2020), which means the social program’s end. At the same time, the IMF wants firstly to see the reform being carried out, and then they will give the credit.
Although Belarus is included in the EAEU and is the part of the Union State of Russia and Belarus, the country's leadership follows the policy of moderate protectionism. Russia was denied the placement of its air base in the country, a result of Minsk not getting the expected credit from Moscow, although the Belarus Military–industrial complex continues to cooperate with Russia, and the country has deployed Russian air defense systems.
It is clear that anti-Russian attacks of the Belarus leadership were made in favor of the EU. However, Brussels didn’t lift the sanctions against Belarusian officials, imposed earlier, although it was admitted that the October elections were legitimate.
Lukashenko tries to mediate in the current conflict. Minsk earlier became the platform for negotiations between Kiev and Donbass, and at the end of 2015 it offered its services to normalize the relations between Russia and Turkey.
Minsk continues to actively develop relations with China, which has been a regular donor of the Belarusian economy for many years.
In accordance with the directive #5 on August 31, 2015, the main directions of cooperation between Belarus and China is the deep and mutual integration of industries and enterprises, information and communication technologies, the formation of joint research and research centers, joint development of industrial science, direct and systemic inter-regional cooperation, creation of the regional center in Belarus Sinology and cooperation with China.
With the increasing military presence of NATO near Belarus’ borders and the ongoing EU sanctions, Minsk could return to more active cooperation with Moscow. The United States will try to avoid such a rapprochement, but the final result depends on the will of one man.
As in 2013, Ukraine was regarded as prospective EAEU participant, after 2014 it isn’t remembered, but only strategically wrong decisions of the current Ukrainian leadership, which is completely controlled by Washington and Brussels, are mentioned now. At the same time, the country developed a unique corruption mode that affects the population. At the end of 2015, the EU staged a number of events where high-ranking officials heavily criticized the actions of Ukraine’s ruling circles. Understanding the fact that the country’s European integration is only a slogan, and all funds allocated for earmarked projects immediately go into the responsible officials’ pockets, a crisis of confidence for the EU is evident. Therefore, new loans and economic aid packages are unlikely because Ukraine is on the verge of default. The script of significant Kiev concessions (such concessions have already been made by the United States on strategic enterprises and transactions) in exchange for financial assistance is possible.
The pragmatic Europeans in terms of their own problems don’t want to deepen into the Ukrainian specifics seriously. In addition, the alternative point of view on the events in Ukraine, including the Kiev regime’s war crimes in the Southeast, becomes more popular in Europe.
Since 2016, Ukraine’s agreement on EU association has started to gain speed. However, despite average Ukrainian expectations, it is unlikely to bring them some form of improvement. Ukrainian products don’t comply with European certification, so the markets of western countries are closed. After the Russian sanctions, the east direction is lost too.
In 2016, the EU visa regime abolition will not happen too.
It will encourage civil protest to grow in stature in the country. Most likely, it will create a new radical nationalist coalition that will speak out against the current president and prime minister. In 2016, the resignation of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is more likely.
In addition, it will increase the separatist movements. In other Southeast regions, some protests will occur more frequently, but a large-scale military movement is unlikely without the support from the Russian or the use of Donetsk and Lugansk Republics as proxy actors.
After signing the EU association agreement, Moldova plunged into political scandal and institutional crisis. Despite the number of features (for example, visa-free entry into the EU territory), Moldova is quite skeptical about the vector of European integration. The corruption of all pro-European politicians in Moldova (the notorious arrest of the former prime minister and the head of the Liberal Democratic Party Vlad Filat, accused on corruption) led to a sharp decline in confidence and interest in pro-European projects. In addition, part of the forces, promoting quick EU integration in favor of union with Romania (the Unionists) led to a split among the supporters of the European idea, as quite a lot of adherents support the preservation of Moldova's sovereignty.
In 2015, Moldova noted the Russophile movement’s activity. A number of political parties and public organizations favor Moldova's accession to the EAEU. Meanwhile, the Transnistrian issue remains problematic for the relationship between Moscow and Kishinev.
Since the events in Ukraine, the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic was subject to a full blockade; the soldiers of the Russian army there could only get to the place of their deployment through Moldova.
The authorities are trying to influence the staff rotation, and, in 2015, more than 20 Russian citizens serving in Transnistria were not allowed into the country.
The Moldovan Leu is one of ten national currencies of Europe and the CIS countries, which fell mostly against the dollar in 2015. In 2016, the strengthening of the Moldovan currency should not be expected. The rest of the trend in 2015 will continue into the current year.
In 2015, the Republic of Kazakhstan was occupied mainly with internal problems on the deterioration of the socio-economic climate. The national currency (tenge) was greatly devalued, because of the transition to a floating exchange rate, and dropped by almost 30%. At the same time, there was no apparent connection of the currency depreciation with the oil prices over the past few years. Analysts predict a significant dollar price rise in 2016 and the official forecast of the National Bank of Kazakhstan predicts inflation at 8%, while the first half will become the worst period.
In April 2015, Kazakhstan held presidential elections. Nursultan Nazarbayev predictably won, gaining 97.75% of votes. Thus, he continues to be the undisputed leader of the country since 1991, but it is increasingly difficult to cope with crises. The political elites rotation issue will rise again in the parliamentary elections in 2016.
In general, the Kazakh leadership’s main areas of work will be domestic politics. Salaries and pensions indexation, anti-crisis measures and institutional reforms to strengthen statehood are the key priorities in 2016. Foreign policy will traditionally continue cooperation with China. Also, a serious project, which will be prepared during 2016, is the world exhibition EXPO-2017, the Future Energy.
Since January 1, 2016, Kazakhstan became the presiding country in the Eurasian Economic Union and the President of Kazakhstan will directly lead the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council. As Nazarbayev was the initiator to create such a union in 1991, we should expect constructive proposals, particularly in the context of the fact that Russia is busy in Ukraine and Syria. Rather, it is beneficial for Moscow, since it can lobby their interests through Kazakh partners.
In 2015, Kyrgyzstan held parliamentary elections, where the results were seen as what would be expected from a democratic process.
But the main event was the country's accession to the EAEU. Russia actively helped Kyrgyzstan to adopt new conditions and there is a tendency that such assistance will continue in the future.
Experts highly estimated Kyrgyzstan’s achievements in culture and sports. With proper skill, these bonuses can be easily transformed into geopolitical assets.
The Kyrgyz economy was relatively stable. In the first nine months of last year, the GDP grew by 6.3%. The evectional campaign contributed it. The increase of agricultural production and retail turnover raised state budget spending and slowing inflation. But, in 2016, it is expected to increase the country's public debt, which could exceed 60% of the GDP.
Kyrgyzstan denounced an agreement with Russia on the construction of Kambarata-1 and Upper Naryn cascade hydropower plants. The Russian official position is that the country suffers from a lack of funds for such projects. In fact, it may result in certain agreements with Uzbekistan, who had a negative attitude to such initiatives in Kyrgyzstan and in Tajikistan. However, Kyrgyzstan intends to seek new investors.
In the future, Kyrgyzstan, with China, intends to begin construction of a 215km railroad. This road will become part of the China – Kyrgyzstan – Tajikistan – Afghanistan – Iran regional project.
Thus, Kyrgyzstan will inevitably act between the two regional actors, Russia and China, as part of their policies. It is unlikely that, in such a situation, the US would be able to return to the military base in the Manas airport. However, Washington will try to exert diplomatic influence to construct the country's political processes.
This Central Asian country with a double neutrality status (the refusal to participate in any military blocs with neutrality under the Constitution), in the last few years quite successfully held the balance between home and foreign policy. Profits from the production and gas exports are distributed in the national budget, and external pressure on the country was minimum.
In 2016, the situation may start to change. The Russian monopolist Gazprom refused to buy Turkmen gas in 2016. The government of Turkmenistan also hopes to compensate the fall in energy prices through new projects, although the effect won’t be immediate. At the end of 2015, the construction of the TAPI gas pipeline was launched, which will allow the exportation of gas to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
Signs that the West is starting to criticize the regime are obvious. According to the index of freedoms and human rights, Turkmenistan more often than not appears in the violator’s list, which is specific symptom. Although the West has practically no tools for the country’s destabilization due to the fact that the opposition holds a marginal position and is under the full control of the Turkmenistan law enforcement agencies, an attempt to create formal supranational and non-governmental initiatives for the progressive erosion of the country's political system may appear. On the other hand, the country may be subject to targeted sanctions, as was previously done in Belarus.
There is also the risk of the exportation of terrorism to the country. First of all, there is the risk of militant groups from neighboring Afghanistan crossing the border. For this reason, the Turkmen leadership sent an additional military contingent to the east of the country. Russia also assisted Turkmenistan in strengthening the Turkmen-Afghan border, which runs on a flat landscape. Uzbekistan, where there are extremist organizations, can also be a source of problems for Turkmenistan.
Anyway, you should closely monitor how the West will react to political developments and the situation in the country. The future strategic vector of Turkmenistan depends on it.
Uzbekistan is an Asian-type autocracy, which the undisputed leader of the country is 78-year-old Islam Karimov. Recently, he carried out reforms to democratize the political system, but there is no successor for the presidency there. The worsening problem of political tensions is trying to be settled by all external parties, realizing the strategic importance of the country.
The West has direct interests in the events taking place in this country. In October 2015, the US government voted strongly against plans to sell the South Korea T-50 fighter trainer to Uzbekistan, which was previously developed jointly by the USA and South Korea. Washington fears that there may be leak of the technologies to Russia, although South Korea intends to keep the deal.
In 2015, Germany closed its military base in Uzbekistan, which was used as the transit point to supply troops in Afghanistan. However, the country’s US Air Force base remains. It is obvious that the presence of foreign troops in the country depends entirely on the political will of Islam Karimov. If previously Uzbekistan built the relations with NATO on the basis of pragmatic security interests related to the situation in Afghanistan, now Karimov understands that NATO is able to radically change the processes in the country.
Although, in recent years, NATO intensified rapprochement with Uzbekistan.
On the other hand, Uzbekistan’s list of threats includes natural and man-made disasters that are associated with the possible construction of hydropower plants in Tajikistan and in Kyrgyzstan. Since the latter Republic is a EAEU and CSTO member, it complicates relations within the framework of the Eurasian integration. In 2016, Uzbekistan has a period of intensive development of the hydropower industry in the state program until 2020.
In 2015, the relations with Tajikistan improved to the level of political consultations between delegations of the two countries, which took place on December 24-25. While actively developing relations with Uzbekistan and China, the country will continue this trend in the future.
If Gazprom stops cooperation with Turkmenistan, the Uzbekistan situation becomes radically different. CEO Alexei Miller said that the purchase volumes would be higher than in Turkmenistan, in 2015, Uzbekistan was the third gas producer in the CIS and one of the ten largest gas-producing countries. It suggests that Russia is on the main trade list and economic partners of Uzbekistan. Moreover, demographically growing Uzbekistan supplies Russia with labor force that cannot be considered by the country's leadership. The common interests with Russia are linked with the terrorist organization’s activity.
In 2015, the political life of Tajikistan saw a number of key events. For the first time, the parliament didn’t include the opposition, the Islamic Renaissance Party (the IRP) and the Communist Party. They scored just over 1%, which was unlikely. The IRP leader Kabiri, because of threats and pressure, was forced to seek refuge abroad. It is associated with the strengthening authoritarian trends.
In September, in a special operation, the Deputy Defense Minister General Abdulkhalim Nazarzoda was assassinated, who, according to the authorities, organized an armed rebellion to overthrow the current country leadership. After that, the IRP was declared as a terrorist organization and many of its activists were arrested.
The Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon received the title of the National Leader for peace and harmony in the country.
While there is an extremist branch related to al-Qaida or the Islamic State in the country, past repression showed the government’s inability to solve key problems.
In 2016, it could detonate, when the country will face a socio-political crisis or ethno-sectarian outbreak of violence.
Although the Islamic State is considered as the biggest threat, it is necessary to understand that Tajikistan is a transit country of drug trafficking from Afghanistan to neighboring countries, and then to Russia. All of these threats can escalate in 2016.
Tajikistan includes 201 Russian military bases and its troops recently were moved to full alert.
Although Tajikistan strongly depends on Russia, in 2016, it will try to maneuver between the various players in world politics.
To attract investment, Dushanbe will address China and the Arab monarchies. If Russia can offer significant preferences, it is likely that Tajikistan enters the EAEU even in 2016.
Georgia continues to focus on EU and NATO integration. The Georgian-Ossetian conflict in 2008 and the Russian operations conduction for peace enforcement was used by the Atlantist forces in the country to promote public opinion that only NATO can protect Georgia from someone's aggression. Although NATO accepts new members only if the country has resolved all their contentious territorial issues, the Georgian government continues to campaign for joining the North Atlantic Alliance.
Georgia's economic index of foreign trade fell over the past year, despite the signing of the EU association agreement. It is obvious that Russia is the main market for Georgian products, so in 2016 Tbilisi will try to improve relations with Moscow. It is possible that Russia will cancel the visa regime with Georgia.
However, a major breakthrough shouldn’t be expected. Politically and military Georgia will still follow Washington and Brussels orders. Even the appearance of the Islamic State terrorist organization’s branches in the territory of the Caucasian republic is unlikely to force its leaders to conduct pragmatic security policies.
The year of 2015 was difficult for the Republic of Azerbaijan, with the fall in energy prices, which affected the national economy. At the same time, the country remained in a critical level of unemployment and low wages in the social sector. In addition, traditional bureaucratic corruption became a concern of the country’s supreme power.
The signing by the Azerbaijani President of the decree to dissolve the National Security Ministry was significant. In it’s place, the State Security and Foreign Intelligence Service will be created. Earlier, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan dismissed many officials. It is not clear how effective the purge was. The country has a lot of advisors from the EU countries, which enhances the diplomatic pressure on the Ilhan Aliyev clan. The President understands that flexibly maneuvering between the interests of all actors will be difficult, therefore, they are forced to make a number of concessions, at least in respect of their own legitimacy and security.
At the end of 2015, a new plan for the Individual Partnership between Azerbaijan and NATO was approved. In addition, the Russian-Turkish crisis invariably affected Baku’s foreign policy priorities. Turkey is a traditional partner of Azerbaijan with common historical and cultural roots. It is likely to strengthen these countries energy alliance with Georgia as the transit territory. The South Caucasus gas pipeline expands; the Trans-Anatolian (the TANAP) gas pipeline that is building now, and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (the TAP) that is planned to start building in 2016, may create a certain competition for the Russian Gazprom. To tell the truth, to complete the work to pump gas to Turkey and Europe in the declared volumes in 2020, it is necessary to complete the work at the Shah Deniz Stage 2, which requires a minimum of $45 billion.
The whole economic situation in the country remains unstable and unfavorable. Significant indexes fell markedly. At the same time, Armenia's accession to the EAEC didn’t bring tangible effect, as relatively little time passed after the ratification of all documents. The overall effect of the global financial crisis, currency fluctuations and reducing economic growth in Russia are felt in Armenia. In 2016, significant improvements in the economy are not expected.
In 2015, Armenia conducted political reform, which provided for a parliamentary-presidential form of government and a growing role of the government. It is difficult to predict how effective the new model will be, as the opposition constantly criticized the ruling coalition. Until now, the structure of all the opposition in Armenia is fragmented, which prevents them from conducting effective mobilization. However, permanent grant assistance from the US embassy and other Western actors may achieve the required result and unite the critical mass of the dissatisfied soon, as was the case in Ukraine. It is likely that the factor of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, including the possible role of Azerbaijan, will be used to shake up the situation in Armenia. Neither Armenia, nor Azerbaijan is ready for the direct military conflict, especially since Armenia has a Russian military base and the country is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. But there will be serious provocations that will be used to destabilize the region in general.
The key trends in 2015 for the region will continue in general. Russia will try to find non-trivial solutions to implement its political influence in Eurasia, as the old methods of public diplomacy and public assistance seem to be ineffective. It is possible that more delicate techniques will be used, perhaps with the help of tertiary forces.
China and Iran’s role in Central Asia will be more efficient, while post-Soviet European countries will face the worsening of crisis.
Islamic terrorism will receive more attention from the CIS political elites next year. There is also the risk of the escalation of frozen conflicts.
It suggests a review of the existing regional security system, which can take place within the framework of the CSTO and the SCO.