Central Asia Cools Down and a European Energy Update

  • Last week’s border clashes between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have ended and a fragile ceasefire is in place. Both nations have agreed to withdraw considerable amounts of military hardware and troops from the disputed area of the Tajik-Kyrgyz border. The fighting that took place along the border between 14-16 September included tanks, aircraft, and artillery. Over 100 deaths were reported during the strife.

On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for there to be “no further escalation” between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. He also reached out to the leaders of both countries and urged them to take steps to resolve the border dispute through peaceful means. Although being members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have a history of tensions accented by the occasional border clash.

“We continue our efforts to resolve the Kyrgyz-Tajik border issues in a purely peaceful way,”    Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov told his citizens in an address Monday. Tajik government officials spoke along similar lines, calling negotiations the key to resolving Tajik-Kyrgyz issues.

  • European government continue to make plans and preparations for an anticipated energy crunch this coming winter. Germany is moving promptly to secure LNG contracts with a number of Persian Gulf states as the flow of gas from Russia is running at severely reduced levels. Meanwhile, Spain and France are revising their respective contingency plans in the hope of avoiding power cuts.

French energy corporation EDF’s efforts to repair and reactivate a number of nuclear reactors is meeting delays. Corrosion has had more of an affect on the reactors and plants than originally thought. If the reactors cannot be brought back online by winter, EDF has warned it might be forced to take ‘exceptional measures’ once the weather turns.

Spain is looking at the possibility of requiring energy-intensive companies to cease operations during consumption peaks. Meanwhile, Finland’s national grid operator Fingrid is warning that Finns should be prepared for power outages come winter.

Kazakhstan Update 9 January, 2022

Kazakh authorities on Sunday said that order has been restored and the nation stabilized following a week of the worst unrest seen there since it gained independence in 1991. The office of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has also reported that all of the buildings and locations previously taken over by the protesters. On Friday, Tokayev said as part of the effort to restore order he authorized police and military to shoot-to-kill. The Kazah leader’s office also reported 5,800 people have been detained since the protests morphed into a violent uprising. According to state media 164 people were killed last week.

As it became apparent how threatening the uprising had become, Tokayev wasted little time in requesting help from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russia-led military alliance of six former Soviet states. 2.500 troops have either been deployed or are in the process of moving into Kazakhstan. The majority of troops are Russian and have those that are on the ground in the country are reportedly securing strategic locations and government buildings. This has freed up Kazakh police and military to participate in the ‘counter-terrorist operations’ in Almaty and Nur-Sultan.

As far as the big picture goes, Vladimir Putin wasted no time in answering Tokayev’s call for help. Russian troops were packing and moving within hours of the order. The Kazakh uprising came at the worst possible moment as the Ukraine situation is moving towards a possible climax this coming week with meetings between NATO, the US and Russia on the schedule. To have allowed Kazakhstan to fall into chaos would’ve been counterproductive to Putin’s plan. By most appearances, the situation in Kazakhstan has calmed down and the government is back in control.