Armenian Defense Minister Crowdfunds Soldier's Surgery

The Armenian defense minister's attempt to crowdfund money for a wounded soldier's expensive medical care has caused consternation in the country, as many Armenians are questioning why the government -- regularly accused of misusing state funds for the personal use of high-ranking officials -- can't pay for the treatment itself. 

At issue is the medical care of Albert Dallakyan, a 21-year-old who was accidentally shot in the head by his commanding officer last June. Dallakyan has already undergone three surgeries in…

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Iran's Caspian Flagship "Seriously Damaged"

The flagship of Iran's Caspian naval fleet has been seriously damaged, and two sailors gone missing, in an accident caused by a storm, Iranian military authorities reported.

The accident happened on January 10, when severe winds pushed the Damavand frigate into a jetty while it was in its home port of Bandar Anzali. Initial reports said the damage to the ship was “minor,” but on January 17 an Iranian military spokesman acknowledged that “the assessment teams…

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US Planned Big Boost in Military Aid to Tajikistan

The United States planned a large increase in special forces training programs for Tajikistan, newly released US government documents show.

The US also was planning to offer special forces training programs to Kyrgyzstan for the first time since being evicted from the air base it used to operate in the country, according to the new data.

The documents show that in fiscal year 2017, the US planned to train 1,200 special forces troops from Tajikistan. Of those, 600 were from the National Guard and a branch…

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Report: China Building Military Base on Afghan-Tajik Border

China is building a military base for the Afghan armed forces in the province of Badakhshan, a senior Afghan military official has said. The plan, if it is realized, promises a deeper Chinese military involvement in Tajikistan, which is necessary as a supply corridor to Badakhshan. 

The plans for the new base were worked out during a visit last month by an Afghan defense delegation to Beijing,  the official, General Dawlat Waziri, told…

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Iran Denies Compromise on Caspian Division

Iran has denied Russian claims that it has agreed on how to divide up the Caspian Sea, casting doubt on reports that the decades-long dispute over the sea is about to be resolved.

After a meeting earlier this month of the five Caspian states' foreign ministers, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declared victory: “With great satisfaction, I declare that we have found solutions to all the remaining open key issues related to the preparation of the draft Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. The text of the document…

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US Signals Return to Great Power Competition in Eurasia

The new National Security Strategy of the United States portrays the Caucasus and Central Asia primarily as a site of great power competition, a striking return to a Cold War footing -- at least rhetorically. But how much the stated strategy reflects actual US policies remains unclear.

President Donald Trump unveiled the strategy document on December 18, and the overarching theme was geopolitics. 

"[A]fter being dismissed as a phenomenon of an earlier century, great power competition returned," the…

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Uzbekistan Restoring Closer Military Ties with Russia

Uzbekistan has agreed to buy Russian attack helicopters, the latest sign that the new leadership in Tashkent is committed to reversing the country's previous policy of shunning Moscow's military advances.

The purchase of the 12 Mi-35 helicopters wasn't formally announced, but reported by Russian news agency TASS, citing a “diplomatic source.” The source said the deal was reached after “prolonged negotiations” during the visit of Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev to Tashkent in November.

The deal appears to be the first…

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Russia Claims Caspian States Reach Agreement on Sea's Status

The five states bordering the Caspian Sea have finally agreed on "all the remaining open key issues" regarding the sea, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said. Lavrov also said the presidents of the five countries will be ready to sign a treaty on the sea next year in Kazakhstan.

However, it remains unclear what -- if any -- compromise has been reached on the most contentious issue: how to divide up the sea, and its rich underwater oil and gas resources.

Lavrov made his comments at a meeting of the Caspian littoral states' foreign ministers in Moscow on December 5…

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Iran Launches New Corvette on Caspian

Iran has launched a new warship on to the Caspian, in what a senior naval commander called a "symbol of the authority of the Islamic Republic of Iran at sea."

The new ship, called Separ ("Shield") was launched at a December 5 ceremony from Iran's Caspian naval base at Anzali. There was apparently some sort of last-minute delay, as earlier press reports had said that the ship would be launched on the occasion…

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CSTO Ready, But Not Yet Willing, To Send Troops to Syria

Leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Russia-led security bloc, have gathered but remained mute on the most closely watched item on the group's agenda: sending peacekeepers to Syria.

Discussions on deploying troops from Russia's CSTO allies -- Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan -- to Syria has gained momentum over the past year.

Russia has long sought a greater CSTO involvement in Syria. "Sending [CSTO peacekeepers] to Syria could, in Moscow's view, substantially strengthen the…

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US Approves Long-Sought Sale of Anti-Tank Missiles to Georgia

The State Department has approved the sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Georgia. The approval is a big win for Tbilisi, which for years has sought the American weapons as a means of protecting itself from a potential Russian invasion.

The U.S. approved the sale of 410 of the missiles and 72 launch units, according to the November 20 announcement. "This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of Georgia…

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Uzbekistan to Relaunch Defense Industry with Turkish Joint Venture

Uzbekistan will produce more than 1,000 armored vehicles in a joint venture with Turkey, a deal finalized during a visit by Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to Ankara. 

The deal is significant in a number of ways: It is the first arms deal between Turkey and Uzbekistan, and was made during the first visit of an Uzbekistan president to Turkey since 1999. Mirziyoyev, who took power last year after the death of longtime president Islam Karimov, has been gradually opening the country up…

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Azerbaijani Navy Visits Iran for First Time Amid Warming Ties

Azerbaijan's navy has made its first-ever visit to Iran, signaling warming ties between the wary neighbors and Baku's growing desire to show that it has non-Western geopolitical options.

Two Azerbaijani patrol ships visited the Iranian port of Enzeli, where the crews visited an Iranian missile boat and did some sightseeing. The visit was low-key, but it was a big step in Azerbaijan-Iran relations…

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As Russian Military Exercises in Armenia, Is Syria on its Mind?

The Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Russia-led military bloc, is carrying out a series of exercises around Russia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. The nature of the exercises have raised speculation that Moscow is angling to get some of its allies to deploy alongside Russian troops for a peacekeeping mission in Syria. 

Currently, about 2,500 soldiers from CSTO member countries -- Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan -- are in…

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Russia to Build New Home Base for Caspian Flotilla

Russia is planning to create a new home base for its Caspian Flotilla, moving it from Astrakhan to Dagestan by 2020. The new base will be one of Russia's most technically advanced naval facilities, Ministry of Defense officials have said.

The new base will be in Kaspiysk, in Dagestan, where a small marine detachment is now located, unnamed MoD sources told the newspaper Izvestiya. Izvestiya said the new facility will be "more advanced than those for the Northern, Baltic, or…

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Pentagon Looking to Georgia to Help Arm Syrian Rebels

The United States negotiated with Georgia to buy weapons for Syrian rebel militias. While both the Pentagon and the Georgian government confirmed the deal, the Georgian government said it was still waiting for formal confirmation on where the weapons would end up before any deal was completed.

That's according to a new investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. The OCCRP identified a network of arms suppliers around the former…

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Azerbaijan Threatens to Cut Off Military Cooperation With US and NATO

Azerbaijan has threatened to cut off its military cooperation with the West in response to escalating pressure on Baku for its human rights violations. But that threat may ring hollow in light of Azerbaijan's declining importance for Western militaries.

United States Senator Richard Durbin on September 7 proposed sanctions against Azerbaijan. The move would bar entry into the U.S. of officials deemed connected to the imprisonment of Mehman Aliyev, the…

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At Last Minute, Armenia Drops Out of NATO Exercises in Georgia

At the last minute and with no explanation, Armenia has dropped out of NATO military exercises in Georgia, after taking part in several other drills with the Western alliance this summer.

Georgia's Ministry of Defense announced just before the start of the exercise, on September 3, that Armenia had decided not to go. “Armenia was due to participate in the military exercises, but unfortunately it abandoned that intention a few days before their start,” a spokesman for the Georgian Defense Ministry told RFE/RL's Armenian service on September 3. “I don’t know what the reason for that…

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Israeli Arms Manufacturer Alleged To Have Attacked Armenia From Azerbaijan

Officials from an Israeli arms manufacturer fired two drone missiles from Azerbaijan into Armenian-held territory, according to a complaint under investigation by the Israali Ministry of Defense.

According to the allegations -- which have been denied by the company, Aeronautics Defense Systems -- the episode occured a little more than a month ago. Company officials were in Azerbaijan to promote their "suicide drone," the Orbiter-1K, and Azerbaijani officials asked for a sort of live…

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