The Caucasus Headlines
China Donates 100,000 Doses of Coronavirus Vaccine to Georgia
China will donate 100,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine to Georgia in April according to Amiran Gamkrelidze of Georgia’s National Center for Disease Control. Georgia received 100,000 doses from China last week, and the country has plans to purchase additional doses. Sinovac has been approved for use in more than 30 countries, including Hungary, Turkey, and Mexico. Gamkrelidze noted that Georgia will overcome the pandemic if 60 percent of the population receives vaccinations, however, recent surveys indicate that many Georgians do not plan to get vaccinated.
Trial of Former President Kocharyan Adjourned
On March 30, the trial of the former President of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan, was adjourned by Judge Anna Danibekyan of the Yerevan Court of General Jurisdiction because the prosecutors were not present for the trial. Kocharyan is currently accused of violating Article 300.1 of the Penal Code, overthrowing the constitutional order. The court will convene again on April 6 to consider whether or not to terminate criminal prosecution against Kocharyan. The decision will be announced at 5:45pm Yerevan time.
Azerbaijan Announces New Plans for Agricultural Production
In a recent video conference between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Zaur Mikayilov, the recently appointed Chairman of the Amelioration and Water Resources Open Joint Stock Company, Aliyev announced new measures for improving the nation’s food security. Aliyev noted that Azerbaijan has a diversity of climate and this should be used to the country’s advantage in accelerating development for providing food for the growing population. The President also noted that with proper management, Azerbaijan will be able to increase its export potential, contributing to the growth of the non-oil sector.
Sources: Agenda.ge, Armenpress.am, Report.az
Eastern Europe Headlines
Biden Calls Zelensky Amidst Russian Troop Buildup
U.S. President Joseph Biden called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time on April 2. The call comes as Russia deploys approximately 15,000 troops for military exercises along the Russian-Ukraine border. President Biden pledged ‘unwavering’ support for Ukraine in his call with the Ukrainian President.
Ukraine Cracks Down on Smuggling
On April 2, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine met and placed personal sanctions on the top ten smugglers in the country. This is the first time Ukraine has used personal sanctions against smugglers.
Ukraine to Join NATO in Iraq
Colonel Andriy Pavelko announced that Ukraine will contribute troops to the ongoing NATO mission in Iraq as well as to the NATO Operation Sea Lion in the Mediterranean. This comes as Ukraine is working to further cooperate with the Western military alliance.
Sources: rferl.org, ft.com, unian.info
Georgian Citizen Released from South Ossetia Prison
On April 1, Georgia’s State Security Service reported that Ramaz Begheluri, a Georgian citizen, had been released from pre-trial custody in Georgia’s occupied Tskhinvali region. Begheluri was detained on February 2 by Russian forces near the Gugutiantkari village in the Gori region. Begheluri’s arrest was discussed within the Geneva International Discussions as well as the Ergneti Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism.
3,000 Ethnic Georgians Detained for Crossing Abkhaz-Georgian Border in First Quarter of 2021
In the first three months of 2021, approximately 3,000 ethnic Georgian residents of the Gali district were detained for alleged illegal crossings into Georgia proper. Starting in February 2020, Abkhaz authorities closed the Enguri crossing point. Abkhaz officials have allowed humanitarian corridors several times during the pandemic, but a full reopening is not expected anytime soon.
Abkhaz, Russian Officials Meet in Moscow
Daur Kove, the Foreign Minister of the regime controlling Abkhazia, traveled to Moscow on April 2 to meet with Mikhail Bogdanov, who serves as the Special Representative of Russia for the Middle East and Africa as well as the Deputy Foreign Minister. The parties discussed Abkhazia’s status internationally and methods of improving Russian-Abkhazian foreign policy interaction. Russia continues to indicate that it will invest in strengthening Abkhazia’s presence internationally.
Sources: civil.ge, Apsnypress
Presidential Spokesperson Indicates Planning for Crimean Platform Continue
According to a statement by Iuliia Mendel, the Spokesperson for the President of Ukraine, officials are actively discussing the format and programming for the Crimea Platform summit, which is planned for August 23. The Crimean Platform has been created to improve the international response and recognition to the occupation of Crimea by Russian forces. It is also designed to draw attention to human rights violations.
Russia Accused of Launching Conscription Initiative in Crimea
As Russia has built up its forces in Donetsk and Luhansk, the European Union has accused Russia of launching a conscription initiative in Crimea to draft residents of the occupied region in the Russian Armed Forces. The E.U. has stated that this military conscription effort is another violation of international humanitarian law.
Sources: ukrinform.net, RFE/RL
Conflict in Eastern Ukraine Experiences Escalation
In the past week, the conflict in Eastern Ukraine has escalated sharply. In Donetsk, Russian-backed separatists killed four Ukrainian soldiers and wounded another during a buildup of Russian forces on the border. Open-source intelligence shows that Russia is actively moving troops and military equipment into the region.
Further Ceasefire Violations Reported in Occupied Ukrainian Territories
Russian-backed rebel forces breached the ceasefire agreement 21 times on April 2. Twenty of the attacks were against Ukrainian military forces, and the other attack was against civilian infrastructure. The violations were largely comprised of machine gun fire and artillery.
Sources: ukrinform.net, The New York Times
Iskander Missiles Discovered During Demining Operation in Shusha
During a demining operation in Shusha, the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) discovered the remains of Russian-made Iskander-M missiles, which are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The Armenian military allegedly only has Iskander-E missiles, which have a shorter range, in its arsenal. Analysts suggest that the Iskander-M missiles were fired from Russia’s 102nd military base in Gyumri, Armenia.
Azerbaijan Accuses Armenia of Supplying Incorrect Maps of Landmines
On the International Day for Mine Awareness and Mine Action, Assistant to the President Hikmet Hajiyev issued a statement alleging that Armenia has yet to provide the correct maps of landmines in the liberated territories. According to Hajiyev, the National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) initiated a demining effort using maps supplied by Armenia, but nothing was found, indicating that ANAMA had been misled. Demining efforts are one of the main tasks in restoring the liberated territories.
Armenia-Azerbaijan State Border Remains Stable
According to the Defense Ministry of the Republic of Armenia, a stable operational situation with no incidents has been maintained along the Armenia-Azerbaijan line of contact. Additionally, no incidents were reported in the Vorotan-Davit Bek section of the Goris-Kapan road, which is monitored by the Armenian National Security Services.
Sources: Oxu.az, Armenpress.am
Transnistrian President Meets with Senior Kremlin Aide
Vadim Krasnoselsky, the President of the Transnistrian breakaway state, met with Dmitry Kozak, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office. The two reportedly discussed the continuance of ties between Russia and the breakaway territory as well as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Transnistrian President Discusses Issue of Negotiations with Moldova with Russian Official
Transnistrian President Vadim Krasnoselsky met with Andrei Rudenko, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. Krasnoselsky thanked Russia for supporting Transnistria in fields including efforts to counter the coronavirus pandemic. Krasnoselsky informed Rudenko of the status of communication with Moldova, which he described as having ‘alarming tendencies associated with the further degradation of the dialogue.’
Sources: Novosti Pridnestrovya