March 2012

The State of the World: Explaining U.S. Strategy

By George Friedman

The fall of the Soviet Union ended the European epoch, the period in which European power dominated the world. It left the United States as the only global power, something for which it was culturally and institutionally unprepared. Since the end of World War II, the United States had defined its foreign policy in terms of its confrontation with the Soviet Union. Virtually everything it did around the world in some fashion related to this confrontation. The fall of the Soviet Union simultaneously freed the United States from a dangerous confrontation and eliminated the focus of its foreign policy. READ MORE

The Curse of China’s Identity Fixation

By Gilbert Rozman

As China’s leadership prepares for its transition to the fifth generation, a fixation on identity and core interests is a troubling sign for U.S. ties. READ MORE

The State of the World: Germany's Strategy

By George Friedman

The idea of Germany having an independent national strategy runs counter to everything that Germany has wanted to be since World War II and everything the world has wanted from Germany. In a way, the entire structure of modern Europe was created to take advantage of Germany's economic dynamism while avoiding the threat of German domination. In writing about German strategy, I am raising the possibility that the basic structure of Western Europe since World War II and of Europe as a whole since 1991 is coming to a close. READ MORE

BRICS leaders gather for summit


Leaders of the fast-growing BRICS nations have gathered to discuss how to combine their powers better. But questions over whether they can resolve their differences linger. READ MORE

Reality of the Eurasian Economic Space

By Daniil Rozanov

Formally Russian Eurasian idea occurred in 1921 when there was issued an assembly of articles “Exodus to the West” and united emigrants-intellectuals (N.S. Trubetskoj, G.V. Frolovski, P.P.Suvchinski). In this assembly the thinkers suggested the concept of Eurasia. READ MORE

How Italy May Yet Save Europe… Really

By Maria Elena Gutierrez

The European sovereign debt crisis reached its apex when global financial markets began considering the possibility that a large euro zone economy — Italy, Spain, or both — could become another Greece, resulting in the dissolution of the single currency. By November 2011, the spread between the yields of 10-year Italian and German bonds was so great that Italy had to pay interest rates well above 7 percent on its long-term debt, a clearly unsustainable level. This marked a political turning point. But while Italy was once seen as a primary cause of the euro crisis, it could now be poised to be part of the solution. READ MORE

Hungary’s Prime Minister Bites the Hand that Feeds Him


By James Kirchick

On March 15, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stood before nearly 100,000 of his fellow countrymen in Budapest and declared, “Hungarians will not live as foreigners dictate.” Drawing an explicit connection between the European Union, which Hungary enthusiastically joined in 2004, and the Soviet Union, which brutally crushed a Hungarian revolt in 1956, Orbán said, “We are more than familiar with the character of unsolicited comradely assistance, even if it comes wearing a finely tailored suit and not a uniform with shoulder patches.” READ MORE

“Pro-Romanian” President of Moldova

By Vitali Kulik

This March 23rd after almost three years pause Moldova obtained its President, thus getting out of evidently prolonged constitutional dead-end. Having just taken the office, the elected President, 63 years old Head of the Supreme Magistrate Council of the Republic of Moldova Nicolae Timofti, have already gained the reputation of the upholder of unification with Romania and “anti-Russian” project in the yellow press. READ MORE

Nazarbaev supports antinuclear attitude of Obama


Kazakhstan has declared antinuclear support for the U.S. It also became a model of nuclear disarmament for the whole world, KazTAG agency reported citing U.S. President Barack Obama. READ MORE

US Envoy Sees Closer Moscow Ties After Putin's Election


By James Brooke

U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul, long an advocate of democracy in Russia, arrived in Moscow two months ago, and he walked straight into a groundswell of anti-Americanism. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was running for president and his supporters accused the new ambassador of supporting anti-Putin street protests. Putin won the election easily three weeks ago, and now McFaul talks about where he thinks U.S.-Russia relations go from here. READ MORE

Future of U.S.-Azerbaijani Relations

By Galib Mammadov

The strong relations between Azerbaijan and the United States are very important for both countries’ national and energy security. Both countries need to understand the importance of cooperation and need to take action to reinforce relations with each other. READ MORE

Recalibrating the U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan

By Dhruva Jaishankar

The protests in Afghanistan over the burning of copies of the Quran confiscated from detainees at Bagram Airfield have led to more than two dozen deaths, and have severely — perhaps even permanently — undermined the United States’ determined efforts to win hearts and minds in the country. The killing of NATO troops by members of Afghanistan’s security forces, or militants in their uniforms, is a dangerous new trend, and one that severely complicates relations between international security forces and their local hosts. It may now be time to consider new strategies by which to achieve U.S. and Western goals in Afghanistan. READ MORE

The State of the World: Assessing China's Strategy

By George Friedman

Simply put, China has three core strategic interests. READ MORE

Rising Gas Consumption Reveals Structural Problems in Turkey’s Energy Policies

By Saban Kardas

Heavy winter conditions have strained natural gas supplies in Turkey, shedding critical light on the country’s over reliance on hydrocarbons. Due to the record increases in household consumption and electricity demand, which coincided with interruptions in gas imports from Iran and Azerbaijan, concerns were raised as to whether Ankara’s current contracts meet its actual demand, and how this will affect its future energy policies. READ MORE

Seoul Summit: A View From Moscow

By Sergey Lavrov

International nuclear agency IAEA should play central role READ MORE

Nazarbayev-Obama meeting in Seoul to further strengthen strategic partnership between the U.S. and Kazakhstan, ambassador Idrissov

The upcoming high-level meeting of Presidents Nursultan Nazarbayev and Barack Obama at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul will further strengthen the strategic partnership between Kazakhstan and the United States, according to Erlan Idrissov, Kazakhstan's Ambassador to the U.S. READ MORE

What Putin Means for Washington


By Jeffrey Mankoff

Washington had four years with the young, agreeable Dmitri Medvedev as its principal Russian interlocutor. But last week’s election confirmed that soon U.S. diplomats will once again be dealing directly with Vladimir Putin. What does Putin’s return mean for Russian foreign policy, and how should Washington adjust its own approach now that Putin, rather than Medvedev, will be sitting across the table? READ MORE

Gazprom Chases China as Europe Demand Falters: Russia Overnight

By Halia Pavliva, Leon Lazaroff

OAO Gazprom, the world’s largest natural gas producer, will strive to forge supply deals with India and China this year as it seeks to win customers outside of Europe, where demand is waning. READ MORE

Enhancement of Baku-Tbilisi-Ankara Axis Rapidly Minimizes the Influence of Russian in Transcaucasia

Another splash of Anti-Russian propaganda of Georgian President during the visit to Baku on March 7th is mainly related to the attempt to revive, lead the foreign political concepts of Georgia out of the crisis which has lasted since August 2008. This during the talk with the reporter of IA REGNUM was stated by the expert on regional issues David Arutiunov, commenting on the declaration of Saakashvili that Russia has no future as it is still building the past. READ MORE

Russia's Inevitable Customs Union in Central Asia

Kyrgyzstan has officially applied to become the next member of the Russia-led Customs Union, an institution designed to entrench Russia's economic and political influence in its former Soviet territory. Although joining the union will harm the Kyrgyz economy in many respects, not joining could motivate Russia to use any of the several levers it has in Kyrgyzstan. Other Central Asian countries are watching Kyrgyzstan carefully, as its membership in the Customs Union likely will lead to their eventual membership. READ MORE

Building with BRICs in 2012

By David Kudla

Investors hurt by last year’s market turmoil have enjoyed an encouraging turnaround, with many of the worst performing asset classes from 2011 having pivoted to become the standout performers of the new year. Such has been the case with emerging markets. READ MORE

Kyrgyzstan: A Look at Central Asia’s Drug War


By Richard Weitz

The volume of narcotics flowing out of Afghanistan to Central Asia and Russia appears to have decreased slightly over the past year. But the stockpile of opiates that traffickers already have on hand is sufficient to supply users in Central Asia and Russia for 15 years, according to a leading drug-control expert in Kyrgyzstan. READ MORE

US-Russia 'reset' gets a boost with Russian offer of airbase

By Fred Weir

Russia has made an unprecedented offer that indicates a desire to improve ties ahead of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.  READ MORE

Kazakhstan’s Next Stage of Development

By Daniel Witt, Douglas Townsend

Kazakhstan’s parliamentary election for the lower house (Majilis) held last month reflects the start of a new phase in its development based on broader parliamentary pluralism, economic diversification and the gradual introduction of competitive elements into the political system.  The country is committed to reducing its dependence on raw materials exports and developing the conditions to accelerate the growth of the non-resource sector, in particular, competitive small and medium enterprises.  This in turn requires the expansion of a middle class with a greater voice in the country’s development and a stake in successful institutional reform. READ MORE

United States and Great Britain: an essential relationship


By Barack Obama and David Cameron

The alliance between our countries is a partnership of the heart – we count on each other and the world counts on that alliance READ MORE

Fragile Turkey’s claim to become the leader of a fragile region

By Arūnas Spraunius

In Turkey, where the military was one of the main factors of national stability since the times of Kemal Ataturk, the arrest of a former commander of Armed Forces Ilker Bashbut has been extended. In the Ergenekon case where more than one hundred suspects have been taken into custody, he was accused on allegations of plotting a coup against the R.T.Erdogan government. READ MORE

Kazakhstan-UN cooperation to be enhanced and brought to a new level - Akmaral Arystanbekova

March 2012 marks 20 years of Kazakhstan's membership in the UN, Kazakhstan Ambassador and First Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ms. Akmaral Arystanbekova has shared her memories of the historical moment of Kazakhstan's accession to the United Nations in an interview with Kazinform. READ MORE

How to Read the British State Visit


Interviewee: Charles A. Kupchan, Whitney Shepardson Senior Fellow, CFR
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor, CFR.org READ MORE

Putin's Return to Kremlin Could Boost Eurasian Union Project

By Robert Coalson

A meeting of the prime ministers of CIS member states at the Constantine Palace in St. Petersburg in October, where Putin triumphantly announced an agreement to form a free-trade zone after years of fruitless negotiations. READ MORE

The Dead-end of “Carrot and Stick”

By Roman Larionov

The story of nuclear issue of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea demonstratively shows that the course of a nuclear bomb development is more significant for North Korea elite than its use for blackmailing of international community. It is explained with routed and regenerated idea with power transition of that in modern world nuclear weapon is the only comprehensive guarantee of non-intervention of foreign forces into domestic political processes in the country. And the stories of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have probably only deepened North Korean authorities within this idea. READ MORE

China sacrifices economic growth to slay inflation dragon


By Nick Edwards

If inflation is a dragon that must be slain, China’s Premier Wen Jiabao has shown he is willing to sacrifice a part of the country’s most vital asset to do so – growth. READ MORE

See you in Sukhumi


By Diana Zadura

Viewed from the side it would seem that the issue of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is now closed for business, and what happened cannot be undone. Georgians however did not abandon hope. In the New Year message, President Saakashvili proposed to his fellow countrymen to greet with a greeting ”See you in Sukhumi,” following the model of ancient Israeli, greeting with the New Year greeting, ”See you in Jerusalem.” READ MORE

Bad blood

Polish-Lithuanian ties are ancient but increasingly acrimonious. READ MORE

U.S. weighing steep nuclear arms cuts

By Robert Burns

The Obama administration is weighing options for sharp new cuts to the U.S. nuclear force, including a reduction of up to 80 percent in the number of deployed weapons, the Associated Press has learned. READ MORE

The Way Forward: Sixty years from the accession of Greece and Turkey to NATO


By Marina Skordeli

The 60th anniversary of the accession of Greece and Turkey to NATO comes at a critical juncture that once again underscores their strategic importance for the Alliance. At the peak of the Cold War, both countries’ geographical position at the underbelly of the Soviet Union rendered them an indispensable part of NATO’s strategic planning, a fact that had dictated their accession in the first place. Together they operated as a natural embankment against any possible Soviet advancement towards the Eastern Mediterranean and the oil rich Middle East, safeguarding at the same time unhindered maritime communication lines. NATO Headquarters and allied installations located there, in close proximity to the USSR, enhanced the reliability of the Alliance’s response to a possible Soviet threat. READ MORE

Armenia Gears Up for New Nuclear Plant Construction

By Emil Danielyan

Armenia’s government seems to be pressing ahead with its ambitious plans to replace the aging nuclear power station at Metsamor, with a new plant meeting modern safety standards. Having secured Moscow’s support for and participation in the project, the government is now actively looking for other foreign investors that would finance at least half of its construction worth an estimated $4.5 billion. READ MORE

NATO’s Central Asian interests

By Arzu Naghiyev

The Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan) have entered a period of serious challenges related to the situation in Afghanistan. READ MORE

Kazakhstan’s Socio-Economic Modernization Strategy: Challenges and Opportunities for the Next Decade

By Roman Muzalevsky

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev addressed the people of Kazakhstan with a statement titled “Socio-economic Modernization: the Main Vector of Kazakhstan’s Development.” In what now resembles an American state-of-the-union address, Nazarbayev outlined ten main priorities that will shape the country’s development in the next decade. Some of these priorities feed on the long-standing agenda of promoting a more diversified, innovative and industrialized economy able to compete in the globalizing world. Others reflect the lessons learned from recent events and the need to better tackle domestic socio-economic challenges that are also increasingly a function of fragile global conditions. READ MORE

Eastern Partnership Policy

By Živilė Marija Vaicekauskaitė

The Eastern Partnership Policy was officially launched in 2009 following the initiative of the Swedish and Polish foreign ministers Carl Bildt and Radoslaw Sikorski, and was supposed to become the main factor shaping the relationship between the EU and its Eastern neighbors, and contribute to the establishment of a sound EU neighborhood space. However, the 2010 disorders in Belarus, political events in Ukraine and misunderstandings between the EU and Eastern neighbors not only displayed the unbalanced approach of the EU toward Eastern Partnership Policy but also different interpretation of the concept of partnership in both sides. Inconsiderable EU’s economic potential, ineffective democracy in ensuring human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the problem of the cost/benefit ratio of Eastern Partnership Policy – all the above issues have raised serious doubts on whether this policy could be considered a true partnership. READ MORE

Kyrgyz President 'Mixed Up' Over Russian Military Bases

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev confused Russian military facilities when he demanded that Russia pay off a $15-million debt for leasing an air base in the former Soviet republic, Kommersant daily reported on Thursday. READ MORE

Turkey and Kazakhstan have similar approaches on many international and regional issues - Turkish Ambassador Lale Ülker

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Kazakhstan. READ MORE

Countries of Central Asia deserve reparations from Russia and international community for damage to water resources during the Soviet times, U.S. scholar says

As a legal heir to the former Soviet Union, Russia should feel responsible for the serious damage to the water resources in Central Asia inflicted by huge irrigation projects during the Soviet era, according to a renowned U.S. expert on the region, reported Silk Road Newsline. READ MORE

Saakashvili Meets Aliyev in Baku

President Saakashvili, who pays a two-day official visit to Baku, met his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev on March 6. READ MORE

The Coming Mediterranean Energy War

By Julia Damianova

A significant gas find offshore has propelled hopes for brighter future in the Mediterranean. For the Republic of Cyprus, it came as a blessing amid the deteriorating Eurozone crisis. The rating agencies had downgraded the Greek-populated southern part of the island four times in 2011 to its current Standard & Poor's rating of BB- because of unhealthy links with the defaulting Greek financial system. READ MORE

Russian-Azeri Talks on Gabala Radar 'Make Progress'

Russia and Azerbaijan have made “some progress” in settling their dispute over Moscow’s lease of the Gabala missile defense radar, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday. READ MORE

State Secretary: U.S. strongly supports idea of TAPI gas pipeline construction

The United States strongly supports the idea of construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. At the same time, Washington strongly opposes meeting of Pakistan's needs in energy resources by constructing pipeline to purchase "blue fuel" from Iran, ITAR-TASS quotes U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying on Wednesday. READ MORE

Ablyazov Sentenced to Prison in UK for Contempt of Court

By Margarita Assenova

The fugitive Kazakh banker Mukhtar Ablyazov, accused of embezzling $5 billion from Kazakhstan’s BTA bank, was sentenced on February 16 to 22 months in prison for failing to disclose his assets and lying under oath to the High Court of England and Wales. Justice Nigel Teare concluded that Ablyazov had breached a court-ordered freeze on his assets, presented “untrue” evidence about property ownership and provided evidence “with the intention of interfering with or impeding the course of justice.” The Justice qualified Ablyazov’s breaches as “deliberate” and “substantial,” describing his conduct as “brazen.” The court has issued arrest warrants, but lawyers of BTA bank believe that Ablyazov, who failed to appear at the hearing in London, may have already fled England (Financial Times, The Guardian, Press Association, February 16). READ MORE

Putin wins Russian presidency amid vote-fraud claims


Vladimir Putin has claimed victory in presidential elections after appearing before tens of thousands of chanting supporters in the capital, Moscow. Election monitors say the polls were tainted by widespread violations. READ MORE

Rejecting Russia's reality

During his report to Parliament, President Mikheil Saakashvili announced that Georgia is unilaterally ending its visa regime with Russia. Moscow responded to this act of goodwill on March 2, by offering to restore diplomatic relations. The Russian government may believe that Saakashvili's decision is a sign that Tbilisi is accepting the "new reality" of the region, but Georgia is still standing firm behind its demand to see the de-occupation process started before relations with Russia can be normalized. READ MORE

Natural-Gas Glut Could Bypass Europe

By James Herron

A major transformation of the global market for natural gas is under way. Fresh international supply routes are being drawn, new exporters are emerging and established trade patterns are being turned on their heads. READ MORE

Moscow Sets Condition for Reciprocating on Visa-Free Rules, Offers Restoring Diplomatic Ties

Moscow said on Friday in response to Georgia's unilateral lift of visa requirements for Russian citizens, that it was ready to reciprocate, but called on Tbilisi to revise its law on occupied territories. READ MORE

What Can America Win From War?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident. … I extend to you and the Afghan people my sincere apologies.” READ MORE

Georgi Baramidze: “It’s Not Easy to Admit Georgia into NATO. But It Shall Be Worse if it’s not Admitted”

By Vladimir Kravchenko

Mikheil Saakashvili has not that many associates, with whom he started reforms in 2003. Fellows-in-arms leave Georgian President for opposition. They turn from friends into rivals. And often into irreconcilable enemies. Georgi Baramidze – is an exception of this rule of Georgian policy. READ MORE

Lithuania wants visa-free travel for Ukraine in 2013

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis said he would make visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens travelling to Europe a priority when his country takes over the rotating EU presidency in the first half of 2013. But he admitted that progress was dependent on Kyiv. READ MORE

Kremlin Seeks to Alarm Southern Neighbors About Cooperating with the Pentagon


By Richard Weitz

It is well-known that the aggressive foreign policy of Iran’s clerical regime makes Central Asian governments uneasy. Most obviously, Iran and its Caspian neighbors have a longstanding dispute over Tehran’s expansive claims to offshore energy resources. In addition, the Central Asian states have repeatedly rejected Tehran’s application to elevate its observer status within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to that of a full member. Furthermore, they have limited educational and cultural exchanges with Iranians that could give Tehran opportunities to proselytize radical versions of Islam in Central Asia. READ MORE

President of Tajikistan and Minister of Armed Forces of United Kingdom discuss withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan

The use of the territory of Tajikistan for the withdrawal of British troops in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) in 2014 was discussed in Dushanbe on Friday by President of Tajikistan Emomalii Rahmon and State Minister for the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom Nick Harvey. READ MORE

Slovenia and Greece aid snow-covered Montenegro

Following heavy snowfall, Montenegro declared a state of emergency throughout the country early this week and made a call for assistance from the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre. The Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) is NATO's focal point for coordination of assistance provided by Allies and Partners in cases of civil emergency. READ MORE

President Islam Karimov Meets with UK Defense Secretary

President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov met with State Secretary for Defense of the United Kingdom Philip Hammond MP at the Oqsaroy. READ MORE

Saakashvili woos Russian business with visa-free travel

By Rusiko Machaidze

Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, said Tuesday night that Georgia will lift visa requirements for all Russians. READ MORE

Human Rights & Disarmament Should Be UN Priority, Kazakh FM Says in Geneva

The international community, with the UN at the forefront, should keep human rights and disarmament at the top of its agenda, while Kazakhstan stands ready to help in every way it can. Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov delivered this message as he spoke at the meetings of the UN Human Rights Council and the Disarmament Conference in Geneva on February 27 and 28. READ MORE

Turkish, Azerbaijani, Iranian FMs to gather for tripartite meeting

By Servet Yanatma

The Turkish, Azerbaijani and Iranian foreign ministers are planning to meet on March 7 in the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic in Azerbaijan as part of a series of meetings regularly held between the three states. READ MORE

India Military Modernized With China In Mind

By Nirmala George

India has decided to buy 126 fighter jets from France, taken delivery of a nuclear-powered submarine from Russia and prepared for its first aircraft carrier in recent weeks as it modernizes its military to match China's. READ MORE

Serbia's long march into the EU

By Zoran Arbutina

Serbia has resolved some long standing differences with its former province of Kosovo, bringing it a crucial step closer to EU candidate status. A decision is expected this week. READ MORE

Global Insights: U.S. Must Strengthen Ties With Azerbaijan

By Richard Weitz

This month marks the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and the post-Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, a country that is currently playing a vital role in sustaining NATO forces in Afghanistan, supporting Georgia and other U.S. friends in Eurasia, and helping to moderate Iranian and Russian ambitions in the energy-rich Caspian Basin region. But Washington needs to prioritize its ties with Baku to strengthen the partnership and to make sure that Azerbaijan and its fragile neighbors in the geopolitically vital South Caucasus region remain strong and stable. READ MORE

What Ails Europe?

By Paul Krugman

Things are terrible here, as unemployment soars past 13 percent. Things are even worse in Greece, Ireland, and arguably in Spain, and Europe as a whole appears to be sliding back into recession. READ MORE

Kazakhstan, UK Sign Accord on Transit to Afghanstan

This week’s visit to Astana by British Secretary of Defence Philip Hammond resulted in the signing of an agreement guaranteeing the transit of British military property and personnel across the territory of Kazakhstan. READ MORE

Russia Completing Baltic Pipeline System Construction, Reducing Druzhba Pipeline Flow

By Vladimir Socor

Russia is set to start crude oil exports through the Baltic Pipeline System’s second trunkline, BPS-2, with its Ust-Luga maritime terminal at the Russian end of the Baltic Sea. The BPS-1 trunkline is already operating since 2009 with its Primorsk maritime terminal. The oil is shipped on tankers via the Baltic Sea and North Sea to European consumer countries along that route, with Rotterdam as a major final destination.  READ MORE

EU to support delimitation of borders in Ferghana Valley

The European Union will support the delimitation of borders in the Ferghana Valley, which is located on the territory of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, CA-News was told in the EU mission in Dushanbe on Monday. READ MORE

Uzbekistan’s Quest for Oi Aral Seal May Weaken Kazakhstan’s Position in the Caspian

By Farkhad Sharip

As a part of its incessant attempts to consolidate its presence in the energy sector of Central Asia, on January 17, the board of executives of the Russian company, Lukoil, endorsed the purchase by its daughter company, Lukoil Overseas, of 6.6 percent of shares in transnational Aral Sea Operating Company. The Aral Sea Operating Company was set up in 2006 to explore and develop Uzbekistan’s oil and gas fields in the Aral Sea on a Product Sharing Agreement basis. With the additional acquisition, Russian shares in the transnational Aral project joined by Uzbekistan’s Uzneftegaz national holding, Chinese CNPC International, South Korean KNOC Aral and Russian Lukoil Company totals 26.6 percent. The 6.6 percent of shares purchased by Lukoil earlier belonged to Malaysian Petronas Company, which abandoned the project in 2011. READ MORE

EU withdraws ambassadors from Belarus


The EU and Belarus have made tit-for-tat withdrawals of ambassadors in an escalating row over the EU's use of sanctions to punish Minsk's human rights record. READ MORE