Headlines from the Caspian: February 22, 2023
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Feb 22, 2023
Energy and Economy
Turkmenistan and Russia Meet to Discuss Energy Trade Cooperation
President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk held talks on February 17 to discuss energy trade. The leaders discussed their existing agreements and committed to continue working on mutually beneficial projects in the energy sector. Prior to these talks, President Berdimuhamedov met the CEO of Russian-owned Gazprom, Alexei Miller, where they also discussed strengthening energy trade relations.
Source: Caspian News
Gazprom to Soon Start Constructing New Pipelines in Central Asia and Southern Asia
After Alexei Miller, the CEO of Russia’s Gazprom, visited Turkmenistan’s President Serdar Berdimuhamedov in Ashgabat on February 15, Miller announced on Rossiya 1. “We will in the nearest future start to implement new large projects to build trunk gas pipelines.” Gazprom is looking to complete the Power of Siberia 2 pipeline to China, and it is additionally looking to start up new pipelines in Central Asia; “We all clearly understand that the Asian market is now the most dynamic market in the world. Consumption volumes are growing, and we see very big prospects for Russian gas on this market.”
Source: Energy Intelligence
Turkmenistan Supplies Uzbekistan with Free LNG
February 20, by order of Turkmenistani President Serdar Berdimuhamedov, Uzbekistan received 2,000 tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Turkmenistan. The company, Hududgaztaminot JSC, responsible for distributing the LNG, stated that half of the supply will go to Karakalpakstan and the other half will go to Khorezm.
USAID Provides Significant Aid to Tajikistan
On February 17, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that it will provide $13 million to combat food insecurity in Tajikistan. This aid is meant, in part, “to strengthen government capacity to address the impacts of concurring shocks.” Food insecurity in Tajikistan has risen, especially due to a decrease in remittances because of the war in Ukraine.
Uzbekistan Will Increase Exports to Europe Through Kazakhstan’s Aktau Seaport
Uzbekistan’s Consul General met with the President of the Aktau seaport, Abai Turikpenbayev, to discuss logistics for increasing trade. The increase in capacity will play a role in expanding Middle Corridor transport and allowing greater reach to European markets. The port is located on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea. It intersects other international trade routes and ships crude oil and petroleum products to and from regional trade partners including Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia, and Turkmenistan.
Source: Astana Times, QazMonitor
Kyrgyzstan Signs Wind Energy Agreements
Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of Energy signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation with NovaWind JSC, a subsidiary of Russian-owned Rosatom, on February 21. This agreement paves the way for a feasibility study for the development of new wind energy projects in the country.
Security and Politics
Kazakhstan to Take Over SCO Chairmanship
The National Coordinator of Kazakhstan, Yerlik Ali, announced that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will transfer the chairmanship from Uzbekistan to Kazakhstan at the upcoming SCO Summit in New Delhi in June-July 2023. Kazakhstan will hold the chairmanship until July 2024 during the SCO Summit in Astana.
Source: Astana Times
Trilateral Meeting of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and United States in Munich
On the margins of the Munich Security Conference, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken moderated a discussion between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on February 18. During this meeting with the leaders, Blinken stressed “the need for free and open commercial and private transit through the Lachin corridor” and “called on the parties to open other transportation routes.” After the meeting with Secretary Blinken, Prime Minister Pashinyan and President Aliyev participated in a panel discussion along with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Helga Schmid. The leaders further discussed the Karabakh conflict and related security issues.
Source: U.S. Department of State, Asbarez
U.S. Secretary of State Visits Türkiye and Announces an Additional $100 million for Earthquake Relief
Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Türkiye on February 19 and announced that the United States will provide longer-term aid to the country for relief efforts after a devastating earthquake on February 6. After official talks and seeing the damage first-hand, Secretary Blinken said that the UnitedStates will provide another $100 million in U.S. aid, in addition to the $85 million in humanitarian aid and other provisions like equipment and search and rescue teams. The additional aid comes as the country was hit by additional 6.4 and 5.8 magnitude earthquakes on Monday.
Source: The NY Times, Reuters
Death Toll Rises to 20 after Avalanche in Tajikistan
A series of avalanches devasted eastern Gorno-Badakhshan region of Tajikistan on February 15. Tajik authorities said the avalanches were caused by heavy snow. So far, 20 people have been confirmed dead and hundreds of families have been displaced. Roads and other buildings have been affected and evacuated, and rescue teams are working quickly to find others who may have been trapped under snow.
EU Launches Civilian Monitoring Mission to Armenia
The European Union began its Monitoring Mission in Armenia (EUMA) under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) on February 20. The “neutral and non-executive" observation mission will be conducted by 100 civilian staff members on the Armenian side of the border with Azerbaijan. The EUMA was created at the start of this year and aims to “contribute to stability in the border areas of Armenia, build confidence and human security in conflict affected areas.”
Source: The European Council
Sources: Asbarez, Astana Times, Azernews, Caspian News, European Council, The New York Times, QazMonitor, Reuters, USAID, U.S. Department of State