When it comes to the brewing arms race in the Caspian Sea region, no one can accuse Turkmen leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of navel-gazing. Ashgabat is now able to back its claims to some energy-rich patches of the sea with considerable firepower.
Abundant energy resources under and around the sea have pushed all five littoral states – Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan – to bolster their naval capabilities. Analysts agree that Russia has the most powerful flotilla on the Caspian. But who is Number Two is a matter of debate.
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Joshua Kucera is a Washington, DC,-based writer who specializes in security issues in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East. He is the editor of EurasiaNet's Bug Pit blog.