Headlines from the Caspian: February 28, 2022
Author:Caspian Policy Center
Feb 28, 2022
Energy and Economy
Oil Prices Jump Amid Growing Concern Over Russian Energy Supply
New Western sanctions on Russia blocking some Russian banks from a global payments system is expected to cause disruptions to the country’s oil exports. Brent crude prices jumped 2.4% settling at $100.25 after reaching a high of $105 early on Monday. This price increase reflects concerns over disruptions in energy supplies and fears that Russia could retaliate by suspending or reducing energy shipments to Europe.
Georgian Government Advocates “careful” Approach on Joining Russian Sanctions
On Monday, Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani addressed the government’s decision not to join international sanctions on Russia. Citing the negative economic impact sanctions would have on Georgian citizens and ongoing presence of Russian troops in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Zalkaliani noted the need to proceed with caution in measures against Russia.
Falling Ruble Pressures Central Asian Currencies
International sanctions on the Ruble have sparked panic in some Central Asian currency markets. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, whose economies are closely linked to Russia, were particularly hard hit. Banks across the region have implemented measures to avoid a run, with reports of clients being barred from making withdrawals from certain accounts. The National Bank in Kazakhstan delayed currency trading on the local stock exchange for several hours as a precaution.
Turkmenistan to Host International Oil and Gas Investment Forum
On March 29-30 Ashgabat will host an international forum aimed at attracting foreign investment in the oil and gas sector. The forum will be broadcast via teleconference at the ongoing World Expo 2020 in the United Arab Emirates.
SOCAR gas stations provide free fuel to ambulances and emergency services in Ukraine, Azerbaijan sends humanitarian aid
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said that following a conversation with President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, all SOCAR gas stations in Ukraine were instructed to provide fuel for ambulances and the State Emergency Service free of charge. Baku also sent a plane with 5 million Euros worth of humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
Security and Politics
Russia-Ukraine Delegations Hold Talks
Russian and Ukrainian delegations began talks on Monday near the Belarus border as Russian attacks enter its fifth day. This comes as Belarus prepares to send soldiers to Ukraine in support of the Russian invasion. The discussions did not suspend military action. Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, experienced significant artillery attacks as the two parties met. Ukraine's key demands were an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Russian troops.
Source: The Washington Post
Flights via Kazakhstan Triple
Following European bans on flights by Russian airlines, the number of flights through Kazakhstani airspace tripled to more than 450. The Kazakhstani air navigation company Kazaeronavigatsiya said that it was prepared to service all flights.
Russia attempts to receive support from Central Asian allies, Kazakhstan refuses to send forces to Ukraine
Russia has attempted to manufacture support for its invasion of Ukraine from its Central Asian partners, prompting pushback. Both Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan issued statements following Russian press releases alleging their support for Russia’s position in Ukraine that clarified their neutral status. Kazakhstan refused a Russian request for military assistance in Ukraine.
Armenia stands alone in support for Russia in Council of Europe
Armenia and Russia voted against the suspension of Russia’s membership in the Council of Europe. In the same vote, Turkey abstained and Azerbaijan was absent.
Source: Open Caucasus Media
Sources: Agenda.ge, Eurasianet, Interfax-Ukraine, Open Caucasus Media, Reuters, Trend.az, Washington Post.