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.

US Concerned Over Buildup Of Russian Forces On Ukrainian Border

The United States is sounding the alarm over the latest buildup of Russian troops and equipment near the Ukrainian border. Washington has warned several NATO allies that the activity now underway could be preparations for Russian military action against Ukraine. While tensions flaring between Russia and the West over energy supplies and migrants, the growing concern is that Moscow might sense an opportunity developing to act against Ukraine as US and NATO attention is focused on the crisis at the Polish-Belarus border. Or, to adopt a more cynical position, Moscow is manufacturing that crisis for its own selfish purposes.

The West has been monitoring activity along the border for some time, but with the emergence of the migrant crisis, the level of Russian troop and equipment movement has risen. Earlier this month, CIA Director Bill Burns visited Moscow and spoke by phone to Vladimir Putin on the matter. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke with the Russian leader about Belarus and Ukraine earlier today.

With the migrant crisis, energy issues and now the Russian buildup cropping up within such a short period of time, this blog will be returning to the Update format. I will post news and analysis about the developing situations in Eastern Europe and Ukraine daily through the end of the weekend. Next week, barring any major incidents, the blog will return to its regular format.