The Caspian region is a hub of tensions



By Vestnik Kavkaza


Russia fears the establishment of NATO military bases in the Caspian Region after the withdrawal of the coalition from Afghanistan in 2014 under the pretence of providing regional security. This view was voiced by the head of the Caspian Cooperation Institute Sergey Mikheyev.

“Threats to security (in the Caspian region) can be described in a following way – it is an attempt at penetration into the region of third forces. It means plans by some Western states to improve their presence in the region, including military and political presence which concerns us a lot,” Mikheyev said during the round table “The Caspian Region: problems of security and prospects of development” which was organized by RIA Novosti.

“One of aspects of the problem is the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan in 2014. Of course it not the end of the world. However, the fact can be a destabilizing factor for Central Asia and the region of the Caspian Sea,” he continued.

The expert noted that one of destabilizing factors is that “during many years of presence in Afghanistan the alliance didn’t achieve any positive results or the results were too small, and the alliance leaves Afghanistan in the same way, like it saw it for the first time.”

“At least the alliance should give a report to the UN on what the alliance’s forces have been doing there for so long, if nothing, except for weird elections, happened there,” Mikheyev said.

The second aspect of the problem is the routes of withdrawing NATO troops from Afghanistan, according to the expert. “I think it will be alright, but there is a possibility that Americans might establish long-term bases in the region on the ground of withdrawing troops. At first they will speak about cargo transportation, then they will say: “The region is restless, it is better to maintain a base and extend it later.” Unfortunately, there are such talks. One of examples is the base of Manas in Kyrgyzstan. It can be called differently – a center of transit, a center of Kyrgyz people support. But actually it is an air force base of the USA. Obviously, they don’t have humanitarian goals,” Mikheyev stated.

The political scientist believes that the other factor of destabilization opportunities in the region is the situation over Iran which is “under very severe sanctions by the West.” “Relations between Iran and the West are difficult, and there will be no radical improvement in the future. Moreover, the West discusses a possibility of a military operation against Iran from time to time. It is clear that the Caspian region countries don’t accept any military conflict in this area. To be honest, any war in Iran would negatively influence security of all Caspian countries,” Mikheyev emphasized.

“We believe that the Caspian region is more and more becoming a node where tension lines of the European continent meet. Apparently, geopolitical interests of many players are crossed here: serious oil and gas resources are concentrated here. Furthermore, there are threats by various foreign projects which strive for providing their own influence in the region. For us the Caspian Sea is inland water, we think that we are interested in maintenance of stability and security in the region. I believe the way out is in the fifth-sided approach to the problem,” the expert stated.

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