summer extravaganza: issue five


Armenian troop withdrawals raises hopes for peace settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh

by Harvey Young

image credit: BoNDeX (Wikimedia Commons)

The Armenian government has recently announced that it will withdraw all conscripted troops from the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh, although all local and professional Armenian soldiers will remain. The decision comes almost two years after a successful Azerbaijani offensive into the disputed region ended in the Russian-brokered ceasefire. There has been sporadic fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan since both countries gained independence from the USSR in 1991 and there are hopes that the withdrawal of many Armenian troops could aid the peace process.

The two nations met to discuss a peace treaty in Brussels in May and the Armenian troop reductions could be a goodwill gesture in service of such an agreement. However, many Armenians, including the opposition, vehemently oppose any concessions to Azerbaijan, meaning that a peaceful resolution of this conflict remains far from certain.

From one dictator to another: EU sign gas deal with Azerbaijan

by Aidan O’Connor

image credit: Benoit Tessier (Reuters)

In an attempt to relieve their dependency on Russian gas, the European Union has announced a new gas deal with Azerbaijan, which is expected to double Azeri natural gas imports by 2027. EU Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen described the deal as ‘a new chapter in [EU] energy cooperation with Azerbaijan’. However, critics have pointed out that the Azerbaijani government has committed human rights abuses, waged a war with a neighbouring country and suppressed opposition groups – actions for which the EU leaders have strongly condemned the Russian government.

The deal comes as Russia further cut gas supplies to several central European countries, causing gas prices to rise dramatically. The flow of gas currently going through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany is now operating at less than a fifth of its normal capacity. Although Azerbaijan has a problematic  record on human rights, EU leaders appear to believe such a deal is essential to end their dependency on Russia.


Putin’s threats extend to Kazakhstan

by Connor Crout

image credit: Chickenonline (Pixabay)

Eight years ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to invade Kazakhstan, a threat repeated in January this year. At the time, Kazakhstan paid no attention to his threats. However, Kazakhstan is now starting to grow concerned due to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Putin has publicly stated that ‘Kazakhstan is a Russian-speaking country in the full sense of the word’. In February this year he gave a speech lamenting the loss of the ‘territory of the former Russian Empire’. If Putin is aiming to invade former Russian territory to form the Russian Empire again, not only are his threats against countries like Kazakhstan real but horrifying as the invasions could easily escalate into a devastating war.

Karakalpakstan: unrest over autonomy

by Kate Nuttall

image credit: OpenClipart-Vectors (Pixabay)

Unrest in the autonomous region of Karakalpakstan in Uzbekistan earlier this month led to the deaths of 18 people and the detention of hundreds more. The violence was a result of a proposal to remove the region’s autonomous status, however authorities within the country have held foreign forces accountable. Around two weeks ahead of schedule, the state of emergency declaration has now been lifted in Karakalpakstan, and President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has ordered the plans to remove Karakalpakstan’s autonomous status to be abandoned. 

Official numbers on how many people still remain in detention have not yet been released, however human rights group Open Freedom Dialogue believe the number to be over 300. Human rights activists alongside opposition politicians have dismissed the claim that the violence was the result of foreign forces.

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