Energy security

Astana Drifts Away From EU-Favored Energy Projects, Nazarbayev

By Farkhad Sharip

Gas and oil supplies to energy-hungry Europe have always featured as the key topic in talks between Astana and EU officials, concerning Kazakhstan's OSCE chairmanship in 2010. Stifled by the precarious situation in the energy sector, the EU has often ignored the heavy-handedness of the Kazakh authorities in dealing with the opposition press, and has toned down its criticism on the non-compliance of Kazakhstan's laws with democratic standards. In appreciation of western backing for Kazakhstan's coveted chairmanship of the OSCE, Astana invariably showed interest in European energy projects.

The Nabucco Carrot and U.S.-Iran Engagement

By Joshua Kucera

For years, analysts have argued that the Nabucco natural gas pipeline -- a U.S.-backed effort to transport gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe via Turkey, thus bypassing Russia -- needed to accept gas from Iran if it was to be economically viable. But Iranian involvement in the project, which is intended to reduce European energy dependence on Russian gas exports, has been anathema for U.S. policymakers: Washington's efforts to thwart Iran's ambitions have so far overridden its desire to thwart Russia's.