Tensions between Moscow and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization flared again yesterday, as the Kremlin responded to rumors that Ukraine may become a member of NATO. The Kremlin has promised to cease all remaining ties with NATO should Ukraine begin the accession process, and accused NATO of using Ukraine for its own purposes of turning the country into a “frontline of confrontation.” The statements were precipitated by the Ukrainian parliament’s decision to renounce its official neutral status, suggesting that the pro-West government in Kiev could soon pledge allegiance to NATO.
The Russian defense ministry added that any move to join NATO would also provoke an “appropriate” response from Russia, and that any return to status quo relations between NATO and Moscow would be irreparably terminated. The threatening nature of the statement appears to have elicited a reaction from Kiev, which temporarily disabled power to Crimea shortly after statements were made.
Follow us on Twitter: @SteppeDispatch
- The Kazakh government and central bank will launch a joint effort in 2015 designed to head off inflation and encourage consumer spending. The series of preventive steps was announced last week and coincides with statements of expected national economic growth. The Kazakh government anticipates real economic growth of between four and five percent in 2015, and believes that by fighting off inflation that holding larger reserves of the tenge will increase in profitability.
- Fears that Afghanistan may become a narco-state are very real on Capitol Hill, a new report demonstrates. A bipartisan report was commissioned by US senators from California and Iowa, and cites the usual combination of corruption and support for terrorist activities in making its case for a more involved US presence in the country. Counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan have been widely ineffective in Afghanistan despite billions spent by two US presidents.
- A group of 22 ethnic Uyghurs were confronted by Chinese border police as they neared the China-Vietnam border, leaving one dead and the remaining 21 in Chinese custody. Motives for the death and detention of the 22 have not been released, though mention of them has been made in Chinese press as “religious extremists.” Opposition media has openly criticized China for what it describes as a “by all means necessary” approach to preventing the emigration of Uyghurs with desire to leave the country.
- British Petroleum inked a new production deal with SOCAR, Azerbaijan’s state-controlled oil and gas company. The agreement, signed earlier this week, extends to the exploration of the Azeri portions of the Caspian Sea labeled “shallow water” areas. These areas are as shallow as 40 meters but hold the potential to unlock vast reservoirs thousands of meters in depth.