Armament and Disarmament in the Caucasus and Central Asia

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Publication Date July 2003
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Since the publication of Gennady Chufrin's edited book on The Security of the Caspian Sea Region in 2001, SIPRI has not attempted to maintain a special research focus on the affairs of the Caucasus region and Central Asia. Our decision nevertheless to offer this modest Policy Paper now reflects two considerations. First, and despite some progress in clarifying the oil-related issues covered in the previous volume, these regions have again become a target of considerable strategic attention and have been exposed to new political/military challenges as a result principally of the US-led 'war on terrorism'. Second, at a time when the regional security agenda is being reopened and reassessed, we considered that it might be helpful to throw into the debate some detailed factual information of the sort traditionally gathered by SIPRI—on such important but often under-discussed dimensions as the actual pattern of military spending and defence development, arms transfers within and beyond the region, and the applicability and effectiveness of arms control and confidence-building measures.

The authors of this Policy Paper include representatives of three different SIPRI project teams and a qualified Russian expert. The picture which emerges from their interlocking contributions is of two regions caught between fast-evolving and often contradictory agendas: the priorities and power-based logic of the war on terrorism; the dead weight and remaining dangers of indigenous conflicts; the appeal and normative pressure of European-style global and regional integration; and the continued very serious flaws in governance in the countries concerned when judged by both value-related and efficiency-related standards. The great northern neighbour, Russia, remains an ambivalent force in all these dimensions. Greater attention by a wider (including a European) audience to these issues and to the related risks and opportunities would be timely and welcome, and our best hope is that the present Policy Paper may help to encourage it.

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