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TOPIC: armenia

Economy

How Fleeing Russians (And Their Rubles) Are Shaking Up Neighboring Economies

Russians fled the war to neighboring countries, bringing with them billions of dollars worth of wealth. The influx of money is both a windfall and a problem.

Posting a comment on a Kazakhstani real estate listing and sales website this past fall, one user couldn't contain his enthusiasm: "It's unbelievable, hasn't happened since 2013 — the market has exploded! ... Yippee! I don't know who to kiss!"

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The boom of demand — and dollars — in Kazakhstan, and other countries in the region, is traced directly to the incoming Russians and their wealth who have arrived since the war in Ukraine began.

The ongoing wave of fleeing Russians is likely the largest emigration from the country in 100 years. There are no accurate estimates of how many Russians have left the country, much less where they will settle or how many of them will eventually return home. But between March and October, up to 1.5 million people left Russia. A conservative estimate suggests half a million haven't returned.

The main flow passed through Georgia, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan (which has the longest land border with Russia). In these countries, the Russian language is widespread and visas are unnecessary. Russians can even enter Kazakhstan and Armenia without a passport.

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Belarus To Kazakhstan: Russia's Weakness Is A Powder Keg In Ex-Soviet Lands

Russia has always claimed to be a kind of sheriff on the territory of the former USSR, a zone the country considers as its "privileged interests." Now it has lost both strength and authority in the war with Ukraine.

Since the collapse of the USSR, thirty years ago, the post-Soviet regions regularly brought bad news to the world. This included everything from regional conflicts and civil wars to ethnic clashes and military coups. But until recently, this never had merged into one continuous stream.

In 2020 we began to see how the instability and simmering conflicts could converge and take a bloody turn: Hostilities resumed between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Belarus bubbling, with popular protests against strongman Alexander Lukashenko, border skirmishes turned deadly between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan; another coup d'état took place in Kyrgyzstan in October.

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Fast-forward to today: We are seeing how Russia's war with Ukraine has worsened the region's security.

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The 'Union State' — Inside Putin's Plans To Rebuild The USSR With A 1990s Treaty

What are Vladimir Putin's long-term goals in Ukraine? An overlooked treaty from the mid-1990s reveal that his ambitions go far beyond Ukraine to building a Russian Empire 2.0.

What does Vladimir Putin want?

One big clue is the “Union State”, a supranational organization consisting of Russia and Belarus that was founded in 1996. The union aimed to gradually create a single political, economic, military and cultural space.

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But Putin’s vision for the union doesn’t stop with Belarus. He has been quietly but diligently building the formations of the USSR 2.0 for decades.

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How Russia's Setbacks In Ukraine Could Reignite Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict

Azerbaijan’s recent shelling of Armenia is the worst hostilities since the war in 2020 over the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. While in the past, Russia, a historic ally of Armenia, sought to restore peace, the Kremlin may make a different calculus this time.

-Analysis-

Almost two years ago, what is now referred to as the “Second Karabakh War” broke the uneasy truce which had been in effect between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 1994. After 44 days of intense fighting – with thousands of dead on both sides – it ended in a precarious, Russian-mediated ceasefire on November 10, 2020.

The nine-point document setting out the terms of the ceasefire in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region of the South Caucasus largely cemented the gains made by Azerbaijan during the war. Among others, it provided for a withdrawal of Armenia’s troops from Azerbaijan and the restoration of economic and transportation links between the two countries.

This is particularly important for Azerbaijan, whose access to its Nakhchivan exclave is separated by Armenia’s Syunik province. The agreement also included arrangements for the stationing of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh until at least 2025.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard and Lila Paulou

Armenia-Azerbaijan Reignites, Greenpeace Nuke Protest, Godard Dies

👋 Ushé-ushé!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Ukraine continues to reconquer territory, fresh clashes on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border leave at least 49 dead and France says adieu to two 20th-century titans of the visual arts. Meanwhile, business daily Les Echos draws a profile of Vladimir Potanin, one of Russia's top 10 billionaires who continues to grow his business despite Western sanctions.

[*Kanuri, Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon]

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In The News
Cameron Manley, Bertrand Hauger, Jeff Israely and Emma Albright

Putin’s Troops Make Hasty Retreat Back Into Russia

Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service posted a video Tuesday morning with the caption "Vovchansk is back home.” In the video, Ukrainian troops can be seen removing Russian flags and signs from buildings in the city in the northeast Kharkiv region. Vovchansk was occupied on the first day of the invasion and reports began to come in Sunday that it had been vacated by Russian troops.

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The city is one of more than 20 settlements of the country liberated over the past 24 hours. In his Monday evening address, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukrainian military had liberated more than 6,000 square kilometers of the country's territory in the east and south.

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In The News
Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet and Bertrand Hauger

Kremlin Pessimism, BoJo’s Toast, Airbnb Leaves China

👋 Hej!*

Welcome to Tuesday, which marks three months since the war in Ukraine started. Meanwhile, BoJo is in trouble again, and millionaires at Davos ask to be taxed more. Persian-language, London-based media Kayhan explores what the future of Lebanon could look like after the election defeat of Iran-backed Hezbollah.

[*Swedish]

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Geopolitics
Jordi Joan Baños

A Visit To Shusha, A Ghost City Marked By Culture And Ethnic Cleansing

The capture of the city sealed last year's Azerbaijani victory against the Armenians — the latest change of control after a century of war and ethnic cleansing.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin & Bertrand Hauger

North Korea Fires Missiles, R. Kelly Guilty, New John Lennon Song

👋 Hyvää huomenta!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where North Korea conducts its third weapon tests in just over two weeks, R&B singer R. Kelly is found guilty of sex trafficking, and an unearthed John Lennon tape is up for auction in Denmark. Meanwhile, we take a look at why despite being an oil- and gas-rich country, Iran has been marred by widespread blackouts in recent years.

[*Finnish]

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Geopolitics
Faustine Vincent

Armenia's 'Velvet Revolution' Betrayed By Shame And Loss

A crushing military defeat in Nagorno-Karabakh, in neighboring Azerbaijan, has cost Armenia at least 2,300 lives and sapped support for the reformist government of Nikol Pachinian.

YEREVAN — Clad still in their fatigues, two haggard soldiers returning from the front wander around the streets of Yerevan, the Armenian capital. Barely 18, they've just buried their friend. Farther on, a refugee couple from the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, in neighboring Azerbaijan, rings the bell at the gate of the French embassy, hoping it will bring them help.

"We know that France is a friendly country to Armenia," the woman says. "Maybe it will help us?"

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Turkey
Sergey Markedonov*

The Geopolitics Of Washington's Stand On Armenian Genocide

MOSCOW— For the first time, the U.S. Congress has recognized the mass killings and deportations in the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923 as genocide. So why now?

It doesn't seem that the United States has anything really to gain from the country of Armenia. Two of the four borders of the country are closed, and its main military ally is Russia, whose efforts to maintain the status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh are keeping Transcaucasia from a new large-scale conflict.

Nor does it appear that the resolution — which the U.S. House of Representatives adopted on Oct. 29 — will worsen Armenian-Turkish relations. There have been no relations between Ankara and Yerevan since the collapse of the USSR. And it is unlikely that the adoption of a resolution will change this.

The topic of the Armenian genocide comes up in the U.S. every time Ankara's behavior displeases Washington.

What, then, is the significance of the move, especially given that there's no telling if the resolution will even pass? A similar project is under consideration in the U.S. Senate, and the executive branch has even more reason for caution given the intricacies of relations with NATO allies, Turkey being one of them.

The document says a lot about how U.S. foreign policy operates. First off, it highlights the constant struggle between values and pragmatism. It's also a reminder that the topic of the Armenian genocide comes up in the United States every time Ankara's behavior displeases Washington.

Commemorating the Armenian genocide in Greece — Photo: Achilleas Pagourtzis/Pacific Press/ZUMA

The United States is clearly and consistently fighting the emergence of any competitor in Eurasia. The point here is not the deeply rooted Russophobia of American politicians, because in fact, Washington is ready to take measures against anyone who tries to break the status quo without taking into account U.S. interests. The bipartisan support the resolution received in the Oct. 29 vote is a case in point.

The adoption of the resolution turns out to be a mirror for all of the parties involved, including Turkey, whose hard-line position on the genocide topic isn't just a matter of avoiding responsibility for the past. It's also about not wanting to set new precedents, because while the issue is ostensibly about Armenians and Greeks, people are also thinking about the Kurds.

The purpose of the mirror, furthermore, isn't just so the stakeholders can gaze at themselves. It's so that they can also learn something.

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Geopolitics
Konstantin Aggert

After Sargsyan Resignation, What Next For Armenia-Russia Relations?

MOSCOW — Following a series of demonstrations against the political class that began across Armenia on April 13, the country's prime minister Serzh Sargsyan has resigned. His duties are being temporarily carried out now by First Deputy Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan. In Moscow, the events in Armenia have prompted a public reaction from Maria Zakharova, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, who wrote on her Facebook page: "Armenia, Russia is always with you!"

Zakharova singled out the capability of the Armenian society to conserve unity amid internal political strife, adding that Moscow was willing to maintain good relations with Yerevan. But the longer-term question of how Sargsyan's resignation will influence bilateral relations may be more complicated. Konstantin Eggert, the former top editor of Kommersant, offered his analysis earlier this week on Kommersant FM.

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