Armed separatist bearing a striking resemblance to Russian forces seized many key buildings in Horlivka, a city in southeastern Ukraine, and one that previously held the distinction of being the last Ukrainian city in Donetsk province to resist the advanced of separatist advanced. The Ukrainian government, which seems to have all but renounced its claim to southeastern Ukraine, has done apart from issuing surrender ultimatums to separatist forces, all of which were ignored until reports emerged that Ukrainian security forces began what they described as an “anti-terror” operation. The operation, which is said to be ongoing in the town of Slavyansk, has been directed by Ukraine’s security services, who classify the attack as an “act of Russian aggression.”
The latest developments have expectedly induced the condemnation of numerous world leaders, including particularly harsh rebukes of the attack made by the White House. U.S. President Obama is said to have spoken with his Russian counterpart in a conversation that was described by officials in Washington as “stern and direct.” It is unlikely that the criticisms of world leaders, or the Ukrainian plea to the United Nations for assistance in fighting Russian aggression, will soften the Russian position, if history is any indicator.
The issue of anti-government, separatist movements resorting to violence in eastern Ukraine has been interpreted by some as a microcosm of what could be a much more severe East-West conflict than has been seen since the end of the Cold War. As dialogue has hardened, allegations of foul play and provocative behavior have been levied by both sides. Reports of “threatening, close-range passes” made by a Russian fighter plane on U.S. ships emerged over the weekend, and only yesterday did Russia’s state-controlled media source allege that the U.S. is prepared to deploy military forces if and when the Ukrainian government is unable to contain separatist movements throughout its southeast. The Russian media report has not been reported or commented on in other world media.
- Tajikistan is the current world leader in labor remittances. Alexander Alvanesov, the United Nations’ Development Program’s representative in Kyrgyzstan, commented on the ranking, stating that bordering Kyrgyzstan ranks in second in work remittances. The majority of funds coming back into Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan come from workers mainly in Russia and Kazakhstan, where they often go to seek work that they are unable to obtain in their countries of origin. The Central Bank of Russia released figures that show that more than $20b flowed out of Russia in 2013, with more than $4b destined for Tajikistan, and another $2b headed to Kyrgyzstan.
- The Times of Central Asia reports on power rationing practices in Tajikistan. Due to an abnormally cold winter, Tajikistan’s already infamous power rationing practices were stepped up due to energy shortages in Tajikistan’s rural communities. The practice normally ceases in the spring, but due to the fact that mountain snow is yet to melt, Tajikistan has been unable to utilize inflows from the Vakhsh River to provide an unmitigated source of electricity to the whole of its populace.
- Officials in Iran’s anti-narcotics bureau stated in a recent report that more than 70% of all illegal drug seizures took place close to Iran’s eastern border, a 936 kilometer stretch that it shares with Afghanistan. One official noted that up to 570 tons of varied narcotics have been seized throughout the past year. Opium cultivation, a leading source of all drugs smuggled out of Afghanistan, has become rampant over the last several years, and the effects it has had on Iran have been considerable. More than 4,000 members of Iran’s security forces have died fighting its own war on drugs.
- Despite reports that Iran and Russia were nearing a trade deal on gas and oil, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Ali Majedi, has stated that any such deal is implausible, given the fact that the two oil giants are current competitors in the oil and gas sectors. Tehran has openly stated that they would like to bolster currently insignificant trade relations with Moscow, but stated that such efforts will likely have to be increased through over avenues.
- Kazakhstan has set into motion an initiative that seeks to offset the embarrassing failure of its Kashagan oil project. Kashagan, which was projected to yield up to 30,000 barrels per day, was postponed due to widespread gas leaks in the project’s pipeline network. Kazakh’s Ministry of Economy and Budget Planning has stated that “additional work and negotiations with users of large subsoil reserves” are currently underway.
- Turkmenistan announced plans to launch a national satellite into space in November of this year. The satellite has been designed and will be launched for communication purposes, and will constitute the first Turkmen satellite to be launched in the nation’s history.