Russia and India have made tentative arrangements to construct a $30 billion oil pipeline through China’s Xinjiang province south to India. The pipeline is set to be the most expensive yet constructed, and the groundwork for the agreement was laid last October when Manmohan Singh visited Moscow during the 14th annual India-Russia summit.
The agreement comes at an uncertain time for the future of Russia’s energy industry, as international pressure on Europe increases to limit imports of Russia’s vast natural energy resources, this move is likely seen as a way to leverage expanding projects and hedge the risk that Europe’s demand will be reduced in the coming years as a result of the Ukraine crisis.
India is notably starved for energy, with projects like the TAPI pipeline and CASA-1000 designed to create wealth by transporting to the underserved Indian market, this project will potentially reduce the burden and demand for those projects to be completed. India currently buys very little crude oil from Russia; fuel and oil imports from Russia were only $176 million in 2012 even as bilateral trade increased by 24.5%. Russian exports to India mostly consisted of weaponry.
- A hospital guard in Kabul opened fire on a group of foreign doctors yesterday, killing three and wounding another. The US Embassy in Kabul confirmed that three American citizens had been killed in the hospital attack but said it had no other information. The hospital in question is the Cure International Hospital, which was founded in 2005.
- The Cabinet of Uzbekistan approved a measure after a meeting held on the 14th of April that all of the country’s television and radio stations must be rigged to explode in case of “emergency.” The measure is to prevent use of the broadcast equipment “should the station fall into hostile hands.” Uzbek ministers made the decision in reaction to the captures of broadcasting centers in eastern Ukraine by pro-Russia forces, and fears of a similar situation in Uzbekistan prompted this decree.
- The Kazakh Parliament has approved a joint regional air defense system with Russia, reported Kazkahstan’s Deputy Defense Minister Okas Saparov. He noted the system would be created to organize and coordinate joint troop actions, emphasizing the importance of one comprehensive plan in the case of wartime. The agreement includes the transfer of ten S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems in a move which strengthens the military cooperation between the two countries to levels not seen since the Cold War.
- Tajikistan’s military conscripts consistently sustain serious injuries, leading to many saying that there is a chronic bullying and hazing problem in the Tajik military. This most recent incident left one conscript with a broken neck and partial paralysis in an attack perpetrated by a medical orderly. This may encourage future conscripts to avoid the call to perform their military service. Tajikistan’s military prosecution has launched an investigation.
- Kazakhstan’s first observation satellite will be launched at end of the month, courtesy of Airbus Defense and Space, who designed and constructed KazEOSSat-1. The rocket carrying the satellite is set to lift off from Kourou, French Guiana. The satellite will be used by Kazakhstan to monitor natural and agricultural resources, the provision of mapping data, security applications, and support for rescue operations in the event of natural disasters.
- The so-called “Caspian Five” (Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan) have agreed to limit access for third-party military forces to the Caspian Sea and the surrounding region. If the convention on the Independence of the Caspian Sea is ratified, it is expected to limit outside military forces in the Caspian Sea region.
- Ukrainian forces moved in a pro-Russian stronghold yesterday, killing 5 militants at a roadside checkpoint in Slovyansk. Military exercises by Russia on Ukraine’s border also have raised tensions, with American defense officials exclaiming that the drills “are exactly the opposite of what we have been calling on the Russians to do.” Putin released a statement several days ago, declaring that the use of Ukrainian army against its own citizens would be a “very serious crime,” but he did not say if this meant Russia would take further military action.
- The Afghan Independent Election Commission has delayed the release of full results from the April5 elections to allow for recounts and audits in reaction to the claims of fraud by many within the country. Commission director Ziaulhaq Amarkhil said that the release would be postponed to at least Saturday to ensure the results are untainted by fraud.