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Showing posts from May 12, 2014

Chinese Investment May Venture Into Crimea

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping in September 2013.(Igor Russak/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images)


As Russia seeks Chinese investment in Crimea, it will try to make sure that such backing does not come at too high a price. Recently, Russian leaders and media reports claimed that China could invest more money in Crimea. Specifically, Chinese companies may help build a bridge across the Kerch Strait, creating a new link between Crimea and the Russian mainland. The Chinese may also help expand various Crimean ports, build solar power facilities, create special economic zones for manufacturing or even participate in other energy and transportation infrastructure projects.

Although nothing is confirmed, Russian President Vladimir Putin's trip to Beijing in late May will provide an opportunity for signing memoranda and launching negotiations over the financing and feasibility of various Crimean projects -- even as China and Russia neg…

China Uses Deep-Sea Oil Exploration to Push Its Maritime Claims

A China National Offshore Oil Corp. oil rig in the Bohai Sea off China's northeastern coast.(China Photos/Getty Images)


China is moving forward with unilateral energy exploration in the South China Sea and is using the placement of a deep-sea oil rig to assert its claims to the disputed Paracel Islands. The move has concerned Vietnam, which also claims the waters and islands in that area, and the United States. Beijing's decision will likely prompt Vietnam to deploy its coast guard or naval vessels to assert its own claim to the area and accelerate its efforts to draw in foreign partners for oil exploration and production. But Beijing is calculating that Vietnam will be unwilling and unable to make any serious attempt to stop the Chinese drilling.

Beijing continues to rely on its growing military and technological capabilities to test its maritime boundaries. Along with responses and reactions from neighboring countries and outside parties, this military reliance will con…

Romania Reacts to the Ukrainian Crisis

Romanian President Traian Basescu (R) speaks with U.S. Navy officials on April 14.(Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Edward Guttierrez III/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)


The events in Ukraine are a concern for Romania. Bucharest fears that unrest could reach neighboring Moldova and also is worried about Russia's growing presence in the Black Sea. Romania's reaction to the Ukrainian crisis will be threefold. First, Bucharest will try to keep Moldova within its sphere of influence. Second, Romania will keep pushing for closer military ties with the United States and with Poland. Third, Romania will intensify its efforts for energy diversification, but progress in this area will probably be very slow. Although Romania's relationship with Russia will remain cold, Bucharest will try not to escalate tensions to the point where its security interests in Moldova and the Black Sea could be threatened.


Romania has two key sources of concern when it comes to Russia. The …

The Kremlin Passes New Internet Restrictions

A girl watches Russian President Vladimir Putin's address to the nation on Russian TV Channel One's website on Nov. 29, 2007. (DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images)


This week, Russian President Vladimir Putin is signing new laws that will tighten the state's control over the Internet, social media, bloggers and the transmission of electronic data across Russian borders. This new crackdown has multiple purposes. The government wants to control the messages inside Russia to limit dissidence. Though the Kremlin is riding a powerful wave of popularity after the annexation of Crimea, there is still a legitimate concern about future stability in the country, especially social and political stability. Moreover, the Kremlin wants to manage foreign access to information coming into and out of Russia. Overall, the government is continuing to isolate the country and its people from the rest of the world as tensions with the West remain high and as the United States continues to re…

Iran's Plans to Export Natural Gas to Europe Face Obstacles

A man walks along South Pars natural gas field facilities in the southern Iranian port of Asalouyeh on Jan. 22.(BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)


Iran has ramped up its rhetoric about possible deliveries of Iranian natural gas to Europe in the weeks following an escalation of tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine. A partnership between the two would seem well founded: Iran is eager to transit its reserves, as well as those of its neighbors, to new markets, and Europe wants to find alternative natural gas supplies to Russia. But political and logistical constraints will render these plans distant, long-term solutions at best.


Tehran has attempted to manage Moscow's perception of Iranian energy's appeal to European customers, saying that it still wants to respect Russia's traditional role as the largest supplier of natural gas to the European market. However, a potential shift in U.S.-Iranian relations is leading more markets to consider Iran as a nat…