Recently, authorities in Myanmar have made a series of moves that some observers have interpreted as signaling a new course under the government of President Thein Sein, elected in March. Prominent among these shifts are the suspension of the Chinese-sponsored Myitsone dam project on the Irrawaddy River and an amnesty that has freed more than 6,000 prisoners, including at least 200 political prisoners. Yet, with these moves, the government seems to be searching more for ways to ease China’s political and economic influence in the country than for avenues of democratic reform. On Sept. 30, Thein Sein announced in parliament […]

article card

Turkey’s energy minister announced earlier this month that the state-owned gas company BOTAS would not renew a gas deal with Gazprom when it expires in December due to a pricing dispute. In an email interview, Hasan Selim Ozertem, a researcher at Turkey’s International Strategic Research Organization, discussed Turkey-Russia energy relations. WPR: What is the nature of Turkey and Russia’s energy relationship, including gas and nuclear energy? Hasan Selim Ozertem: Russia is Turkey’s main energy supplier, with their energy relationship dating back to the Cold War period. In the post-Soviet era, relations have been positive, particularly in the area of natural […]

China-Russia relations took another step forward during Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing last week. With the Arab Spring throwing the two governments into an unexpected alliance at the United Nations this year, the visit marked the continuation of attempts to build a deeper and less volatile bilateral relationship. The two sides signed off on trade deals worth $7 billion, demonstrating a tangible effort to move beyond energy-based economic ties, while Putin suggested a greater focus on China for the Kremlin’s foreign policy after the recent period of rapprochement with the U.S. This suggests that, although mistrust and suspicion […]

Recent developments in South America have upended the United States’ historical — and often misguided — tendency to lump the region into a one-size-fits-all policy. A politically and economically muscular Brazil, the rise of an anti-American bloc of countries led by Venezuela, and the emergence of economic and even political extraregional rivals in the hemisphere have created a more diverse, independent and contentious region for the United States. At the same time, the looming shadow of a double-dip U.S. recession and the spectacle of partisan intransigence leaving Washington paralyzed have led to an overwhelming impression across the region that the […]

“Resource wars” enthusiasts worldwide have a new — and unexpected — poster child: “zero problems with neighbors” Turkey. The Turkish government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is beside itself over Israel’s recent moves to cooperate with Cyprus on surveying its Eastern Mediterranean seabed for possible natural gas deposits thought to be lying adjacent to the reserves discovered last year off the coast of Haifa. I told Reuters last week that the mounting war of words between Turkey and Israel, which includes some clear military preparations, amounts to a “storm in a teacup.” But other respected experts quoted in the […]

article card

In its goal to significantly decrease its dependency on foreign oil, the U.S. Navy has successfully tested its first unmanned reconnaissance helicopter powered by biofuel. The trial was the second successful test for the Navy in as many weeks.

When Viktor Yanukovych finally ascended to the presidency of Ukraine in 2010, commentators could be forgiven for thinking that the era of caustic bilateral relations with Russia, Ukraine’s largest neighbor and former imperial ruler, would come to an end. That era of tension had begun in 2004, after the Orange Revolution sidelined the largely pro-Russian wing of the Ukrainian oligarchy. For the following six years, Kiev and Moscow clashed on a seemingly endless range of issues, from esoteric debates on the interpretation of Soviet history to major international events like the Georgian War. Natural gas, in particular, became a source […]

article card

Ukraine and Azerbaijan recently signed a deal on the supply of Azerbaijani liquefied natural gas to Ukraine. In an email interview, Natalia Shapovalova, a researcher at the Madrid-based think tank Fride, discussed Ukraine’s energy market. WPR: What is the current state of Ukraine’s energy relations with Russia? Natalia Shapovalova: Russia-Ukraine energy relations are difficult as both have diverging interests. Ukraine is interested in keeping gas prices low, the volumes and price of gas transit high and control over its gas pipeline independent. Russia wants just the opposite. Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych’s government has tried to revise the 2009 contract with […]