Caspian Policy Center Hosts a Discussion on the Ukraine Crisis and Its Implications Across Eurasia
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Feb 16, 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C. - TODAY, the Caspian Policy Center hosted a virtual panel discussing the implications of Putin’s Ukraine crisis across Eurasia with experts from the United States, Ukraine, Central Asia, and the South Caucasus. The panelists discussed the security, economic, and foreign policy impacts of Putin’s continued aggression against Ukraine and the fallout of the current crisis for Ukraine and the Caspian region.
The ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine has received the international spotlight as U.S.-Russian tensions reach a boiling point. The panel, moderated by Dr. Roger Kangas, advisory board member at the Caspian Policy Center, sparked fruitful discourse on the impacts of the gathering of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border on the post-Soviet states of the South Caucasus and Central Asia. He noted that “so much of the conversation has been about the impact on Russia’s relationship-specific to Ukraine, Europe or the United States. Our intent is to draw attention to Eurasia itself and the broader sphere through the Black Sea through the Caucasus, the Caspian, and onward into Central Asia.”
The panelists echoed the worries of Washington that an increasingly aggressive stance by Putin against Ukraine could set a precedent for Russian intervention in the Caspian region. Ambassador (ret.) Giorgi Badridze, a Senior Fellow at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies, highlighted the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia, which attracted little international condemnation when Russia unilaterally invaded its Caucasian neighbor. He attributed the international community’s previous ambivalence to “the West having a longstanding problem of inability to discern between the Russian interests and the Kremlin’s whims.” As Russia flexes its muscles more frequently in the Caspian region, it will become imperative that Washington avoids “any sort of unilateral concessions, to Russia, to the Kremlin” because this “will only encourage and embolden Russia’s aggressive moments,” according to the ambassador.
Despite Central Asia’s geographical distance from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Temur Umarov, fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center, stressed that “when Russia behaves in a certain way towards other post-Soviet states, it sets that precedent for all other Central Asian countries and when a crisis like Georgia or Ukraine happens, these countries don’t really know how to react.” The speakers said that Caspian countries have been hedging their interests among China, Russia, the European Union, and the United States. An armed conflict in Eastern Europe could threaten this balancing act by highlighting Russia’s determination to maintain its influence among the post-Soviet states.
The context of Russia’s renewed aggression towards Ukraine must be placed in a broader context. Dr. Hanna Shelest, Director of Security Programmes at the Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism” emphasized this point by saying that “what many countries prefer to think as local affairs and the trouble between Russia and Ukraine…they could…understand that the implications of these events would have much greater and much longer consequences as well.” Furthermore, the speakers noted that Moscow retains a deep understanding of the domestic situations in the Caspian region. The panelists agreed that increasing U.S. awareness of Caspian affairs would challenge barriers that keep post-Soviet states dependent on Russia despite Moscow’s growing aggressive foreign policy.
About Caspian Policy Center
The Caspian Policy Center (CPC) is an independent, nonprofit research think tank based in Washington D.C. Economic, political, energy, and security issues of the Caspian region constitute the central research focus of the Center. CPC aims at becoming a primary research and debate platform in the Caspian region with relevant publications, events, projects, and media productions to nurture a comprehensive understanding of the intertwined affairs of the Caspian region.
With an inclusive, scholarly, and innovative approach, the Caspian Policy Center presents a platform where diverse voices from academia, business, and policy world from both the region and the nation’s capital interact to produce distinct ideas and insights to the outstanding issues of the Caspian region.
Learn more at caspianpolicy.org