October 2014

Chinese Designs on the Arctic? Chill Out

By Matthew Willis

It is not fashionable, these days, to downplay China’s interest in the Arctic. Recent news that Beijing plans to publish a guidebook on Arctic shipping, that China will receive preferential treatment along the Northern Sea Route (NSR), or that Chinese investors plan to finance Russian gas extraction in the Yamal all creates the impression the country is moving into the Arctic in a big way (Barents Observer, June 20; Barents Observer, May 21; Reuters, April 30). A steady stream of analysis, mainly from Western commentators leaning heavily on the notion that the Chinese are both revisionist and far-sighted, suggests that something more sinister is afoot.

Nagorno Karabakh – new Russia‘s „peace“ project?

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By Inga Popovaitė

At the beginning of August the political experts have again turned their eyes on Nagorno Karabakh: here the bloodiest clashes took place since the ceasefire agreement announced in 1994 between Armenia and Azerbaijan. According to the international media, by 9 August the pogroms in both countries resulted in the deaths of more than twenty people. Thus there is no wonder that the Kremlin discerned here a chance to strengthen the positions in South Caucasus and the positions of V.Putin as a peacekeeper against Western opponents. On 9-10 August in Sochi Putin met with the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan and organised a tripartite meeting which was not attended by the representatives of the OSCE Minsk group. Let‘s see if Russia has really played the role of peacekeeper decisively.

Silk Road to pipeline

By Claude Salhani

In ancient times the Silk Road connected trade and commerce between Europe and the Far East, passing through Central Asia and the Caucasus. Today the trade of prime goods still moves through the Caucasus to European markets, and the Far East. The big difference is that the camel trains have been replaced by a network of pipelines such as the Southern Gas Corridor.