CPC - Caspian Policy Center


nine hard truths along the caspian middle corridor: critical factors facing the caucasus and central asia

Nine Hard Truths Along The Caspian Middle Corridor: Critical Factors Facing The Caucasus and Central Asia

Author: Dr. Eric Rudenshiold


Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The word is out. The eight, energy-rich Caucasus and Central Asian countries are joining together along a newly invigorated Middle Corridor trade route that is increasingly proving a competitive alternative to Russia’s northern transit corridor. This expanding, Trans-Caspian, east-west trade passage is catching global attention and attracting significant investments from international donors and partners. Spurred by Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia) and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) have tacitly agreed to reduce their economic reliance on neighboring Russia and China, by cooperating with each other and collectively pursuing global engagement and investment.

Formerly mistrustful competitors, the Central Asians have recognized the opportunity to diversify economic, security, and other partnerships, due in large measure to Russia’s preoccupation with Ukraine, as well as the economic risk of secondary sanctions, by maintaining Russia as their largest economic partner. Divided by a multitude of conflicts, both resolved and frozen, the Caucasus are likewise revisiting their historic differences and seeing Moscow’s divided attention as a potential prospect to reconnect, expand and transform their economies. Growth over the last several years in trade along the Middle Corridor is quite remarkable, as trade volumes have risen significantly and are expected to triple to 11 million tons in 2030 with operational improvements.

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