CPC - Caspian Policy Center


Caspian Security Conference: What Comes Next for the Caspian Region Following the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Caspian Security Conference: What Comes Next for the Caspian Region Following the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

The Caspian Security Conference organized by the Washington-based Caspian Policy Center and the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies (NESA Center) of the U.S. National Defense University, will explore the future of security for the Greater Caspian Region following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Conference sessions will examine the following questions: 


 - What role can the United States play in helping Caspian countries maintain positive relations with all partners in the region? 

 - How can the United States and Caspian countries work together to stabilize Eurasian markets in the wake of Russian sanctions and prevent sanction busting? 

 - How can the United States and its European allies work with the Caspian region to ensure stable energy markets in the wake of Western disengagement from the Russian energy market? 

 - What can the Caspian countries do to insulate themselves from potential security threats stemming from the invasion of Ukraine? 

 - How can the United States and its allies aid the Caspian countries in countering security threats from malign actors? 

 - Can the United States and its NATO allies create successful comprehensive national security partnerships with Caspian countries? 


After gaining independence, the countries of the South Caucasus and Central Asia quickly set out to build international relationships, protect their sovereignty, and safeguard their national security. The United States began forming political and security relationships with the Caspian region and all eight countries joined the NATO Partnership for Peace. During the U.S. and NATO mission in Afghanistan, countries on both sides of the Caspian Sea provided essential assistance to the United States and Europe. International forces departed Afghanistan on August 31, 2021, leaving the political and security outlook of the country and its neighbors in question. Then, early in January 2022, the region saw CSTO troops deployed for the first time to Kazakhstan and on February 24 Russia invaded Ukraine.  


The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and Russia's invasion of Ukraine have demonstrated a need to reevaluate relations with traditional security partners and great powers, leaving the Caspian countries in the difficult position of determining their security future. As the United States and Europe come together to impose heavy sanctions on Russia, the Caspian region must navigate complex political, defense, and economic ties between Russia and the West. The countries of the region will need to develop and employ decisive, creative, and cooperative solutions to both protect their national security and to collaborate with a diverse set of international partners.  

Caspian Security Conference  

Day 1 - June 28 


Panel 1 – The Developing Roles of Multilateral Security Organizations in the Caspian Region 

11:00 AM – 12.30 PM


Overview: In the past year, multilateral security organizations have been more active in the Caspian region. In August 2021, the Taliban rose to power, following the United States and other NATO forces’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and then both the SCO and CSTO responded with military exercises in Central Asia. In January 2022, Russian-led CSTO forces were deployed to Kazakhstan, a member state. The mobilization of troops suggests the future use of multilateral security organizations as instruments of exerting political pressure as well as avenues to maintain security ties. Panelists will discuss the evolving role that NATO, CSTO, and SCO play in the Caspian region, given that these organizations can be an avenue for partnership as well as competition.  


  • Brianne Todd, Assistant Professor, Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies  


  • Laura Cooper, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, Department of Defense (invited) 


  • Iskander Akylbayev, Director for Central Asia, Oxford Policy Advisory Group 

  • Raffaello Pantucci, Senior Associate Fellow, RUSI 

  • Fuad Shahbaz, Independent Policy Analyst, Daniel Morgan Fellow 

  • Dr. Aijan Sharshenova, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, OSCE Academy 






Caspian Security Conference  

Day 2 - June 28 


Panel 2 – The Future of Asymmetric and Hybrid Threats in the Caspian Region 

11:00 – 12.30 


Overview: While kinetic conflict has been a major factor in the security of the Caspian region many other threats exist. Due in part to its position at the crossroads of East and West, the region faces concerns over terrorism, economic and energy resource coercion, malicious use of technology, and disinformation from various state and non-state actors. Panelists will discuss asymmetric and hybrid threats faced by the Caspian states and how the United States and the region’s governments can work together to maintain resilience against future challenges. 


  • Ambassador Susan Elliott, Senior Fellow, Caspian Policy Center (invited) 


  • Rebecca Zimmerman, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia, Department of Defense (invited) 


  • Dr. Nurlan Aliyev, Lecturer, University of Economics and Human Sciences, Warsaw 

  • Eugene Chausovsky, Senior Analyst, Newlines Institute  

  • Dr. Erica Marat, Associate Professor, College of International Security Affairs, NDU 

  • Dr. Mariya Omelicheva, Professor, National War College, NDU