CPC - Caspian Policy Center


headlines from the caspian: april 9 2024

Headlines from the Caspian: April 9 2024

Author: Caspian Policy Center

Apr 8, 2024

Image source: Ministry of Emergency Situations, Kazakhstan

Energy and Economy


75,982 People Evacuated in Kazakhstan After Massive Floods

After the ‘worst floods in decades’ hit northern Kazakhstan, 75,982 people, including 18,681 children, have been rescued and evacuated across the country. As of April 8, 10 regions of Kazakhstan remain under a state of emergency after heavy rain and flooding: Akmola, Aktobe, Atyrau, Karagandy, Kostanai, Pavlodar, West Kazakhstan, North Kazakhstan, Abai, and Ulytau. Over 25,000 people volunteered to help in the aftermath of this natural disaster, and over 550 tons of humanitarian aid were collected. 

Source: Astana Times

The EU and Uzbekistan Announce Partnership on Critical Minerals

Representatives from the European Union and Uzbekistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding on April 5 initiating a strategic partnership on critical minerals. Uzbekistan has major deposits of copper, molybdenum, and gold, and it plans to double its uranium output by 2030. These minerals are essential for high-tech industries, defense systems, and the energy transition, but China owns over 85% of global processing capacity. As part of a broader effort to reduce dependence on China for critical minerals, the EU aims to mobilize up to €300bn in investments in critical mineral supply chains worldwide.

Source: Daryo, European Commission

EU and United States Announce Major Investments into Armenia

After a tri-lateral meeting between European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on April 5, Von der Leyen announced a four-year, €270 million investment package for Armenia aimed at strengthening “Armenia’s economy and society, making them more robust and stable in the face of shocks.” Von der Leyen also commended Armenia’s work against circumnavigating anti-Russia sanctions, stating, “This shows that the European Union and Armenia are increasingly aligned in values and interests.” The United States also announced an investment plan of $65 million towards Armenia’s “democratic and economic resilience.” The moves come after months of Armenia publicly distancing itself from long-time ally Russia.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Turkmenistan Offers to Supply Electricity and Gas to Tajikistan

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Chairman of the Turkmen People's Council (Halk Maslahaty), offered to supply gas to Tajikistan via Uzbekistan during an official visit on April 4. “Today there is every opportunity to intensify cooperation to create a transport route from Tajikistan to Turkmenistan’s Caspian coast, with further access to Iran and on to the Persian Gulf and Turkey,” said Berdimuhamedov. According to a local TV channel, Altyn Asyr, Turkmenistan signaled its readiness to begin organizing a trilateral union, including Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, to carry out the supply. 

Source: Daryo, Times of Central Asia

Russia’s Lukoil Hires Uzbek Workers

Lukoil, Russia’s second-largest oil producer, announced a deal with Uzbekistan to hire workers on temporary contracts, evincing Russia’s struggles to meet basic labor demands. As the war in Ukraine continues, Russia’s army and weapons factories have absorbed a steadily growing number of workers. While the shortages represent an opportunity for laborers in neighboring countries, Central Asians living in Russia are facing heightened suspicion and hostility after the Crocus City Hall attack reportedly carried out by Tajik nationals. 

Source: Investing.com

Security and Politics


Georgian Dream Resurrects Foreign Agents Law

On April 3, Georgia’s parliamentary majority introduced a bill nearly identical to the “foreign agents” law it attempted to pass in March of 2023. Under the first bill, an organization receiving more than 20% of its funding from outside of Georgia would have been labeled “foreign agents.” The new iteration uses the phrase “organization pursuing the interests of an outside power.” The original law was strongly opposed by the European Union and with large street protests in Tbilisi. Protesters have already gathered in Tbilisi to demonstrate against the new bill.

Source: RFE/RL, JAM News

Azerbaijan and Armenia Trade Fire in Border Region

Gunfire was reported April 5-7 on the de facto border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Both sides have reported major firefights, and both sides have blamed the other for the cease-fire violations. On April 5, Azerbaijani media released videos showing the Armed Forces of Armenia building up equipment and forces along the border near Eastern Zangezur. On April 6, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported that Azerbaijan’s forces were fired upon 16 times by Armenian armed forces, and again on April 7, Armenian forces shot in the direction of Azerbaijan’s military. According to Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense, “the Azerbaijani Army Units took adequate retaliatory measures in the mentioned directions." The Armenian Ministry of Defense has reported fighting in three locations in two separate provinces. There are no reports of casualties as of April 8. Western partners have cautioned against military escalation. 

Source: Politico, RFE/RL, News.am, Trend.az

Masses of Central Asian Migrants Wait at Immigrant Centers as Russian Cracks Down on Visas

Following the terror attack in Moscow which was reportedly carried out by Tajik nationals, Russia has cracked down on Central Asian Migrants. The Kremlin has placed a halt on visa distribution leading to masses of seasonal workers trying to enter the country waiting at immigrant centers for days. Many Central Asians who travel to or live in Russia for work are facing an increase in discrimination, with reports of a spike in xenophobic acts throughout the country since the attacks.

Source: RFE/RL, The NYTimes

Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan to Hold Joint Military Drills

On April 4, the operational-tactical command staffs of the Ministries of Defense of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan held a joint conference planning meeting in Aktau, Kazakhstan. During the meeting, the parties signed a joint plan agreeing to hold “Бірлестік (Unity) - 2024” exercises in July 2024 at the Oymasha training ground of the Republic of Kazakhstan, as well as at Cape Tokmak in the Caspian Sea aquatorium. 

Source: Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan

Türkiye Cancels Free-Visa Regime for Tajik Nationals 

Tajik citizens will now have to apply for visas to travel to Türkiye, according to a decree signed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  The decision comes after the attack on the Crocus City Concert Hall in Moscow on March 22, even though Erdogan did not provide a reason for the elimination of the visa-free regime.

Source: Times of Central Asia

Sources: Astana Times, Daryo, European Commission, JAM News, Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan, News.am, Politico, RFE/RL, The NYTimes, The Times of Central Asia, U.S. Department of State 

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