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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests


Jim Nichol
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

The United States recognized the independence of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia when the former Soviet Union broke up at the end of 1991. The United States has fostered these states’ ties with the West in part to end their dependence on Russia for trade, security, and other relations. The United States has pursued close ties with Armenia to encourage its democratization and because of concerns by Armenian-Americans and others over its fate. Close ties with Georgia have evolved from U.S. contacts with its pro-Western leadership. Successive Administrations have supported U.S. private investment in Azerbaijan’s energy sector as a means of increasing the diversity of world energy suppliers. The United States has been active in diplomatic efforts to resolve regional conflicts in the region. As part of the U.S. global counter-terrorism efforts, the U.S. military in 2002 began providing equipment and training for Georgia’s military and security forces. Troops from all three regional states have participated in stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The South Caucasian troops serving in Iraq departed in late 2008. The regional states also have granted transit privileges for U.S. military personnel and equipment bound for Afghanistan.

On August 7, 2008, Russia and Georgia warred over Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russian troops quickly swept into Georgia, destroyed infrastructure, and tightened their de facto control over the breakaway regions before a ceasefire was concluded on August 15. The conflict has had long-term effects on security dynamics in the region and beyond. Russia recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but the United States and nearly all other nations have refused to follow suit. Russia established bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia that buttress its long-time military presence in Armenia. Although there were some concerns that the South Caucasus had become less stable as a source and transit area for oil and gas, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are barging oil across the Caspian Sea for transit westward, and the European Union still plans to build the so-called Nabucco pipeline to bring Azerbaijani and other gas to Austria


Key issues in the second session of the 111
th Congress regarding the South Caucasus have focused on Armenia’s independence and economic development; Azerbaijan’s energy development; and Georgia’s recovery from Russia’s August 2008 military incursion. At the same time, concerns have included the status of human rights and democratization in the countries; the ongoing Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over the breakaway Nagorno Karabakh region; and threats posed to Georgia and the international order by Russia’s 2008 incursion and its diplomatic recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Congress will continue to scrutinize Armenia’s and Georgia’s reform progress as recipients of Millennium Challenge Account grants. Some Members of Congress believe that the United States should provide greater attention to the region’s increasing role as an east-west trade and security corridor linking the Black Sea and Caspian Sea regions, and to Armenia’s inclusion in such links. They urge greater U.S. aid and conflict resolution efforts to contain warfare, crime, smuggling, and terrorism, and to bolster the independence of the states. Others urge caution in adopting policies that will increase U.S. involvement in a region beset by ethnic and civil conflicts. .


Date of Report: September 16, 2010
Number of Pages: 40
Order Number: RL33453
Price: $29.95

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kyrgyzstan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests

Jim Nichol
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

Kyrgyzstan is a small and poor Central Asian country that gained independence in 1991 with the breakup of the Soviet Union. The United States has been interested in helping Kyrgyzstan to enhance its sovereignty and territorial integrity, increase democratic participation and civil society, bolster economic reform and development, strengthen human rights, prevent weapons proliferation, and more effectively combat transnational terrorism and trafficking in persons and narcotics. The United States has pursued these interests throughout Central Asia, with special strategic attention to oil-rich Kazakhstan and somewhat less to Kyrgyzstan.

The significance of Kyrgyzstan to the United States increased after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. Kyrgyzstan offered to host U.S. forces at an airbase at the Manas international airport outside of the capital, Bishkek, and it opened in December 2001. The U.S. military repaired and later upgraded the air field for aerial refueling, airlift and airdrop, medical evacuation, and support for U.S. and coalition personnel and cargo transiting in and out of Afghanistan. The Kyrgyz government threatened to close down the airbase in early 2009, but renewed the lease on the airbase (renamed the Manas Transit Center) in June 2009 after the United States agreed to higher lease and other payments. Current President Roza Otunbayeva has declared that the interim government will support the continued presence of the transit center, although some changes to the lease may be sought in the future, in recognition that ongoing instability in Afghanistan jeopardizes Kyrgyzstan and wider regional security. In 2010, the Manas Transit Center hosted about 850 U.S., Spanish, and French troops and 750 contractors and a fleet of KC-135 refueling tankers.

Cumulative U.S. budgeted assistance to Kyrgyzstan for FY1992-FY2008 was $953.5 million (FREEDOM Support Act and agency funds). Kyrgyzstan ranks third in such aid per capita among the Soviet successor states, indicative of U.S. government and congressional support in the early 1990s for its apparent progress in making reforms and more recently to support anti-terrorism, border protection, and operations in Afghanistan. After an April 2010 coup in Kyrgyzstan and ethnic violence in June 2010 in the south of the country, the United States provided $4.1 million in urgent humanitarian assistance. At a July 2010 international donors’ conference, the United States in addition pledged $48.6 million to address further food and other humanitarian needs and economic recovery. Besides this assistance, the Administration has requested $46.9 million in foreign aid for Kyrgyzstan for FY2011 for democratization, security, health, education, and agricultural reform programs
.


Date of Report: September 9, 2010
Number of Pages: 15
Order Number: 97-690
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

CRS Issue Statement on the Caucasus and Central Asia

Jim Nichol, Coordinator
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs


During the second session of the 111th Congress, legislative and oversight attention to the Caucasus and Central Asia likely will focus on humanitarian assistance, economic development, democratization, security support, energy security, and the protection of human rights. Key objectives regarding the Caucasus are likely to include bolstering Georgia's democratization, security, and pro-Western stance; encouraging Azerbaijan's Western orientation and its energy development; supporting Armenia's independence and economic development; and enhancing the region's potential as an east-west trade and security corridor linking Europe with Central Asia and China. The on-going Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over the breakaway Nagorno Karabakh region threatens these objectives, as does Russia's recognition of the "independence" of Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia, its establishment of military bases in these regions, and its ongoing economic sanctions against Georgia following Russia's August 2008 conflict with Georgia. 

For the remainder of the second session, the 111th Congress may review plans for added foreign assistance for rebuilding war-torn Georgia. At the same time, Congress may scrutinize Armenia's and Georgia's reform pledges as recipients of Millennium Challenge Account grants. The Congress may conduct oversight hearings on the issue of European energy security and the role of the Caucasus and Central Asia as critical energy sources and transit areas. In addition, Congress likely will remain concerned about reports of Russia's ongoing human rights abuses against its North Caucasian citizenry, including those in the Chechnya region, and about the threats posed by terrorism and instability in the North Caucasus to the wider region and beyond. 

Congress has been at the forefront in advocating increased U.S. ties with the Central Asian states (including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) to bolster their sovereignty and independence, and in providing backing for use of the region as a staging area for supporting U.S.-led stabilization efforts in Afghanistan. Congress may continue to consider issues related to the participation of several South Caucasian and Central Asian states in the Northern Distribution Route for transporting U.S. and NATO supplies to Afghanistan. The April 2010 coup in Kyrgyzstan and continued instability in that country---which hosts a major U.S. air "transit center" for troops entering and leaving Afghanistan---is likely to be of continued concern. Congress likely will deliberate over ongoing regional assistance for border and customs controls and other safeguards to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including aid for the elimination of Soviet-era WMD infrastructure. 

Congressional deliberations over FY2011 foreign aid appropriations may include scrutinizing the levels and types of humanitarian, economic, democratic, and security assistance funding requested for the Central Asian states. The role of Central Asia as a growing energy supplier to the European Union, Russia, China, and South Asia are likely to remain Congressional concerns. Congress will continue to contend with balancing U.S. interests in continued engagement with Central Asia to advance energy security and counter-terrorism against concerns about human rights abuses and lagging democratization, with the latter reflected in conditions Congress has placed yearly on foreign assistance to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Congress may continue to monitor Kazakhstan's stewardship of European security and human rights issues as the country carries out its duties for the remainder of 2010 as the chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).



Date of Report: July 2, 2010
Number of Pages: 3
Order Number: IS40305
Price: $0.00 FREE go to http://www.pennyhill.net/documents/caucasus_and_central_asia.pdf

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

CRS Issue Statement on Russia

Jim Nichol, Coordinator
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs


In recent years, the United States maintained limited cooperation with Russia on Iranian and North Korean nuclear concerns and on nuclear non-proliferation in general. Tensions increased, however, on issues such as NATO enlargement, the recognition of Kosovo, and proposed U.S. missile defenses in Eastern Europe. Russia's invasion of Georgia in August 2008 further heightened bilateral tensions. 

The Obama Administration moved to revitalize or "reset" U.S.-Russian cooperation on mutual issues of strategic interest while continuing to press U.S. concerns about Russia's military conflict with Georgia and other Russian foreign policy actions. At their first "get acquainted" meeting on April 1, 2009, in London, President Obama and Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev issued two joint statements on opening nuclear weapons talks to replace the expiring Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and on U.S.-Russia relations. In the latter joint statement, the two presidents agreed to "deepen cooperation to combat nuclear terrorism," and to "support international negotiations for a verifiable treaty to end the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons." 1 Russia agreed to assist the United States and the international community in responding to terrorism and insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to drug trafficking from Afghanistan. The two sides pledged to strengthen Euro-Atlantic and European security, including through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the NATO-Russia Council. 

At the July 6-8, 2009, presidential summit, the main topics reportedly were Iran, a major U.S. concern, and missile defense, a major Russian concern. One achievement of the summit was the establishment of a U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission intended to strengthen consultations and diplomacy. President Obama highlighted the commission as the "foundation" element in re-setting relations, since it would greatly expand communications between the two countries. The presidents are the co-chairs, and the U.S. Secretary of State and the Russian Foreign Minister coordinate meetings. 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reported in October 2009 that her visit to Russia had resulted in progress between the two sides in negotiations to replace START, support for the Global Initiative To Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and cooperation in Afghanistan. Meeting on November 15, 2009, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific summit in Singapore, Presidents Obama and Medvedev continued discussions on START and Iran. President Obama reported that he had again stressed to Medvedev that added international sanctions should be applied to Iran if it continued to defy its international obligation not to develop nuclear weapons. 

Presidents Obama and Medvedev signed the New START Treaty on April 8, 2010. New START limits each side to no more than 700 deployed intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles and heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear armaments. The treaty also limits each side to no more than 1,550 deployed warheads. 

On June 9, 2010, Russia supported the approval of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929, which expressed growing international concern with Iran's lack of compliance with ensuring that its nuclear program is peaceful and expanded an arms embargo and tightened restrictions on commerce dealing with "proliferation-sensitive activities" in Iran.



Date of Report: July 2, 2010
Number of Pages: 3
Order Number: IS40383
Price: $0.00 FREE go to http://www.pennyhill.net/documents/russia.pdf

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Kyrgyzstan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests

Jim Nichol
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

This report examines Kyrgyzstan's uneven political and economic reform efforts. It discusses U.S. policy and assistance for democratization and other programs and provides basic facts and biographical information. Related products include CRS Report RL33458, Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests, by Jim Nichol.


Date of Report: September 3, 2010
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: 97-690
Price: $29.95

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Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
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