Category Archives: rusia

Asia Central en verano

Este verano han pasado muchas cosas por Asia Central. Primero las elecciones de agosot en Kazajstán y que ganó el partido del presidente de forma masiva (el Nur OTAN consiguió todos los escaños en juego, un resultado sin precedentes… no hubo ni el intento de un cierto maquillaje de los resultados). Algunos analistas han vinculado los resultados a un golpe sobre la mesa para evitar cualquier tipo de rumores tras el tema Alyev.
Actualmente se ha publicado el informe de la ODHRI que, como era previsible, no las ha dejado muy bien, dificultando la pretensiones del país de presidir la OSCE en un futuro próximo.

Por otro lado encontramos la reunión de la Organización para la Cooperación de Shanghai (SCO) y que tuvo como elementos más destacados la creación de un “mercado energético” y la seguridad. También destacable fué la decisión de no ampliar la organización (especialmente por la oposición de Kazakhstan) y dejar a India, Pakistán, Iran y Afrganistán como observadores.

También hemos tenido notícias de un nuevo grupo llamado Islamic Jihad Union y que dice ser una escisión del desaparecido Movimiento Islámico de Uzbekistan (IMU), en las detenciones por un intento de atentado en Alemania. Diferentes blogs han cuestionado las informaciones entre los que destacaría Beyond the River.

Y hoy hemos despejado una de las grandes incognitas uzbekas: finalmente elecciones presidenciales el 23 de diciembre (pasando el límite establecido, pero bueno). Hagan sus apuestas! A mi me parece que vamos a tener Karimov por sete años más (pese a los peses legales, a la mala salud, etc.). Para mi la gran pregunta es cuantos candidatos van a poder cumplir los requisitos para presentarse:

Under current legislation, an Uzbek citizen can be nominated for president either by a political party or an initiative group of 300 people. They also need to collect the signatures of 700,000 eligible voters and submit an application to the CEC.

Una buena notícia es que Eurasianet ha realizado una compilación en DVD de 10 películas de la región (tan difíciles de encontrar) y ha mejorado su apartado sobre la Revolución de las Tulipas de forma muy didactica.

Finalmente, Rahmon (presidente tayiko) ha decidido mejorar las relaciones con los uzbekos y Uzbekistan y ha realizado nuevas medidas, como la simplificación de las bodas. En Eurasianet se analiza así:

A western anthropologist working in the Pamir Mountains notes that many of her Tajik contacts believe Rahmon’s social initiatives are good for Tajikistan. “They see Rahmon as protecting their interests,” she said. “Wedding traditions have become huge economic burdens for poor families, who are already sending many of their sons to Russia just to make ends meet. …. These villagers readily agree that money [spent on elaborate wedding rituals] could be saved for things like a car or sending their kids to university, and are glad to have an ‘excuse’ to not go into serious debt without loosing face.”

Tajiks tend not interpret the wedding limitations, along with other measures designed to enforce austerity, as government meddling in private affairs. “They see the ban as a ‘boost’ for individual families, like a tax break,” the anthropologist said.

A waiter in Dushanbe also applauded Rahmon’s restrictions on lavish weddings. “The situation here is really hard to earn money and prices are increasing,” the waiter said. “Why make a party for people you haven’t seen in years?”

For the few who can easily afford to throw a big bash, there is always a way to circumvent the rules, the waiter added. “If someone wants to have a really big party they will just pay off the police responsible” for enforcing wedding party limits.

Para terminar un interesante análisis de las posiciones de Rusia y India en Asia Central Narain Roy en Mainstream:

However, Russia’s strength lies elsewhere. Russia has successfully used its new soft power role in Central Asia which extends far beyond its energy resources. Russia’s greatest contribution to the security and stability of its southern tier has not been arms sale or military pacts. Moscow has provided the region’s biggest safety valve through migration to Russia. It has absorbed the surplus labour of the region by providing them jobs, markets for goods and consumer goods. As Fiona Hill of the Brookings Institution says, “a range of new Russian products, a burgeoning popular culture spread by satellite television, a growing film industry, rock music, Russian popular novels, a revival of the crowning achievements of the Russian artistic tradition, and new jobs in the service and other sectors have made Russia an increasingly attractive country for the region around it.”

It is indeed sad that New Delhi should continue to underestimate the importance of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. India is, of course, an observer and as such participates in the SCO’s meetings, but it is like the US attending the NAM summit as an observer. So enamoured are our foreign policy mandarins of the new found friendship with Washington that they have found no time to evaluate the SCO’s great potential strategic importance to India.

fgh

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Russia and China’s friendship

Interesting article by Andrei Piontkovsky in Project Syndicate. He says that Russia’s foreign policy should be more pro-western and less pro-chinese, bc those are going to be the real enemies for Russia’s re-emergence.

Russia’s current diplomatic tilt, indeed, is clearly against its own long-term national security interests. China will never be interested in Russia’s economic and political modernization, for it prefers Russia to remain a source of mineral and energy resources and a vast “strategic rear” in its looming challenge with the United States. (…)

In fact, conflict between Russia and China is possible precisely in Central Asia, given the clear differences in the two countries’ economic and political interests in that region. Aside from control of the region’s energy supplies, water has become a potential source of conflict, given China’s serious shortages. Yet, while the Chinese clearly understand these contingencies and are preparing themselves to deal with them diplomatically and militarily, the Kremlin remains myopically obsessed with the phantom threat of America.

Thus, as the Kremlin dreams of re-establishing its domination over what Russians refer to as the “near abroad” (Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic countries, and the other post-Soviet states), China is increasingly looking at Russia as its own “near abroad.” Will the Kremlin finally wake up to this?

Thirty-six years ago, Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong turned world politics upside down, as both America and China realized that it was the Soviet Union, and not each other, that posed the greater threat. Vladimir Putin needs his own “Nixon moment.” Alienating the West is a foolish strategy when the greatest long term threat to Russia comes from the East.

I guess if the US and Europe have the same interest as the Chinese on Rusia. I don’t see the chinese threat to Russia or other neighbours in a military way, these threat is going to be much more ecomic and cultural. Maybe Russia should seek western support, but one also needs to ask if the West can recognise China as it’s rival and, much more difficult, if it would see Russia as a useful partner to deal with it.

Russia to claim the North Pole

We have seen it on the news:

and in Russia Today

or the BBC or the humorist Craig Ferguson on CBS and even the catalan TV3 did a great report about it.

Since it’s fundation Russia has been looking for a warm water port mainly for strategic but also for comercial reasons, but they couldn’t get it (not on the mediterranean, nor the Black Sea, nor the Pacific -Japan Sea-). So if the Russian empire couldn’t reach the warm water… now the warm water is reaching Russian ports.

From the rosurces point of view, the North Pole is melting down and it’s sea bed is rich (they even say 25% of worlds oil) so Russia is already claiming it.

From the comercial point of view it is interesting to note that the fastest route from Japan to UK is going to be through the North Pole (10 days shorter), so creating a new and ever faster Silk Road? And also underscoring the strategic comercial situation of Singapur or the Malacca Strait? Only a bit… probably.

GPS, Galileo, Beidou 2 y Glonass

Estos son los nombres de 4 proyectos que tendrán exactamente la misma función pero que estarán bajo diferente control: EEUU, UE, China y Rusia.
Todos ellos tienen claras aplicaciones civiles, muy útiles, y que bien conocemos en el caso del GPS, que es el único que ya funciona, y es un claro ejemplo de negocio económico de beneficios de escala y un monopolio natural. Esto es, porque realizar 4 redes de satélites mundiales que hagan lo mismo? La única respuesta possible es las implicaciones de seguridad. Si EEUU estubiera de acuerdo en ceder el mando y control del GPS a estas naciones, seguro que no tendrían porque desarollarlo, pero EEUU perdería el monopolio que tiene ahora.
Hasta el momento China se había sumado al proyecto europeo, pero ahora parece que va a desarrollar el suyo propio, igual que Rusia.
Esto me parece una excelente muestra de la creciente multipolaridad mundial.

Más información en este interesante artículo de Japan Focus.

EU, Central Asia and Energy diversification

Otro interesante informe del International Crisis Group, recién salido del horno, uno de los elementos más destacables es el mapa del final, que puede ser de gran utilidad por su claridad:

Bishkek/Brussels, 24 May 2007: Central Asia’s oil and gas cannot solve the European Union’s energy dependence on Russia, but these resources can destabilise the producing region unless governments use the revenues to promote good governance and rule of law.

Central Asia’s Energy Risks,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the resources of three countries – Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – and the dangers of mishandling them. It argues that a trans-Caspian gas pipeline cannot largely write Russia out of the European energy equation, as Brussels hopes. But it also disputes the common view that the 12 May Russian-Central Asian gas agreement prevents that pipeline from being built.

“Central Asia can make a contribution – a modest one – to helping resolve Europe’s energy security concerns”, says Charles Esser, Crisis Group Energy Analyst, “but only if outside investment is tied to the good governance that is needed to improve regional and human security. If Western governments turn their eyes away from mismanagement and human rights abuses in expectation of short-term gains, they risk stimulating instability in Central Asia that will only add to their energy and other security problems”.

The three countries present different challenges, but all three are suffering from the “resource curse”. Kazakhstan has used its money best and is impressive compared to its neighbours but should aim for a higher standard now. It is at a point where enormous oil revenues need to be translated into commensurate outcomes that benefit its citizens. Corruption, an undiversified economy, improper management of state funds and a lack of the legal guarantees that are part of a true democracy hold it back.

All these problems are more extreme in Turkmenistan, a major gas exporter that was pillaged by the eccentric and brutal dictator Saparmurat Niyazov until his death in December 2006. Despite a relatively high per capita income on paper, most Turkmen live in poverty. Investment in energy production has faltered. It remains to be seen if anything fundamental will change under the new leader, a close protégé of Niyazov’s who came to power in a rigged election. He may not have much time before revenues fall, as gas production will decline without substantial new investment.

Uzbekistan has the least oil and gas of the three producers. It is a net importer of oil, and much of its declining gas output has been sold to Russia. Despite wishful thinking in some European capitals, it will never be a part of EU energy security arrangements. The gas also perpetuates a system that impoverishes and represses its people. Domestic supplies are often cut in winter, for example, so the gas can be sold abroad, leaving cities unheated in freezing weather, provoking protests and serious unrest.

“The hard fact is there is no substitute for arrangements with Russia that stress mutual dependence on commercial oil and gas delivery”, says Michael Hall, Crisis Group Central Asia Project Director. “The international community needs to pay more attention to Central Asia as a security risk, without expecting it to solve its outside energy needs”.

Sakhalin Island’s oil and gas resources

Sakhalin Island’s oil and gas resources are being developed by international consortia. Sakhalin I’s oil production neared its maximum capacity of at 250,000 bbl/d in February 2007, and Sakhalin II produces oil for six months of the year at a rate of roughly 80,000 bbl/d. Other areas around Sakhalin Island are still in early stages of development.

General Background

Sakhalin Island, a former penal colony located off the east coast of Russia and to the north of Japan, holds vast hydrocarbon resources. Oil reserves in the area are estimated at almost 12 billion barrels, and natural gas reserves at approximately 90 trillion cubic feet. International consortia of energy companies have entered into production sharing agreements (PSAs) to develop the resources. Even though all of the consortia have extensive export plans (including to the United States) via LNG terminals and export pipelines to the mainland, there has been little progress except on the first two parts of Sakhalin Island: Sakhalin 1 and Sakhalin 2, which lie to the southeast of Okha (see map to the left, and for more detailed maps click on the project websites for Sakhalin 1 and Sakhalin II below)

The Politics of Imagining Asia: Empires, Nations, Regional and Global Orders

Excellent article written by Prof. Wang Hui, and published in Japan Focus
Abstract
Following the recent trends of globalization and regionalization, the idea of Asia has been revived in political, economic, and cultural fields. This essay examines some of the multiple uses of the idea of Asia in modern East Asian and especially Chinese history. It consists of four parts. Part One discusses how the idea of Asia developed from modern European history, especially the nineteenth century European narrative of “World History,” and points out how the early modern Japanese “theory of shedding Asia” derived from this narrative. Part Two studies the relationship between the idea of Asia and two forms of Narodism against the background of the Chinese and Russian revolutions. One, exemplified by Russian Narodism, attempted to use Asian particularity to challenge modern capitalism; the other, represented by Sun Yat-sen, attempted to construct a nation-state on the basis of a socialist revolutionary program, and to develop agricultural capitalism under the particular social conditions of Asia. Part Three considers the differences and tensions between the “Great Asianism” of Chinese revolutionaries such as Sun and the Japanese idea of Toyo (East Asia), and discusses the need to overcome the categories of nation-state and international relations in order to understand the question of Asia. Part Four discusses the need to go beyond early modern maritime-centered accounts, nationalist frameworks, and Eurocentrism in reexamining the question of Asia through historical research by focusing on the particular legacies of Asia (such as the tributary system) and the problems of “early modernity.”