Murat Laumulin, D.Sc. (Political Science), chief research associate at the Kazakhstan Institute of Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Almaty, Kazakhstan)

In 2006 and 2007, the geopolitical situation around Central Asia underwent changes, some of which were quite substantial. The great powers shifted their political accents and readjusted cooperation formats. Energy moved to the forefront to become one of the new issues and centerpiece of the EU strategy. The rapidly worsening relations between Russia and the West are another geopolitically important factor. Russia had a strong, though not always obvious, impact on the regions geopolitical context. In fact, the entire range of relations (transport, economy, energy, and the humanitarian issues) between the EU and Central Asia cannot be correctly assessed without taking into account the Russian Federation. Russias presence in the region (either obvious or hidden from the eye) and the vector of its relations with Europe have put an energy alliance between Moscow, other important energy producers, and transit countries on the agenda.

The worsening relations between Russia and the West (particularly with the United States, the EU, NATO, and OSCE) are a fact, the nature and repercussions of which look long-term and varied. It has already spread to cooperation in the economic and energy spheres, military-strategic stability, the counterterrorist struggle, and geopolitical and geo-economic cooperation between Russia and the West in Asia, Latin America, the Balkans, Africa, and the Middle East and, most important, in the CIS.

The wave of Color Revolutions that swept the post-Soviet expanse in 2003-2005 was in fact the first (still latent) clash of Russian and Western interests. To keep up appearances, the sides refrained for a

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