Land-Locked Naval Defense Diplomacy in the Caspian Sea
Author: Rear Admiral (Ret.) Ron MacLaren, Justin Rich, Major General U.S. Army (Ret.) Michael S. Repass
May 12, 2022
The Caspian Sea, a body of water disconnected from the world’s oceans, has become the center of growing economic trade and naval militarization. Despite its importance in Eurasian geopolitics, Washington has integrated the region into its foreign policy and national security agendas only in broad terms. It is imperative for the United States to enhance its diplomatic presence in the region with Cabinet and Sub-Cabinet engagement and investment initiatives, yet it would be incomplete without addressing the expanding Caspian navies of the five littoral states.
While it may seem like an insulated body of water, there are larger international implications that affect both regional and U.S. national security. The Caspian provides Russia strategic naval depth and has the potential for minimally restricted illicit trade, both of which can have impacts ranging from security in the Black Sea to illicit international trade networks. Washingon should seek a diplomatic approach through defense cooperation to mutually strengthen national security interests of the United States as well as of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan on the Caspian Sea.