CENTRAL ASIA AS SEEN FROM RUSSIA

Murat LAUMULIN


Murat Laumulin, D.Sc. (Political Science), Senior Research Fellow at the Kazakhstan Institute of Strategic Studies (Almaty, Kazakhstan)


Introduction

This is a survey of what has been written in Russia about Central Asia, of the subject range and scope of problems that our Russian colleagues have discussed in their works, and of what they think about the regions future. For obvious reasons, the Russian public as a whole and political scientists and politicians as its part cannot remain indifferent to what is going in Central Asia. Until quite recently, Russia and Central Asia were parts of a single state; today they remain tied together by geographic and geopolitical proximity. For these reasons, the region is still part of Russias information expanse.

The Russian Federation, which has scored quite a few foreign policy successes, is still facing old and persisting problems and is coping with the new challenges that crop up in the contemporary world. The integration initiatives formulated by Russia are hailed by some of its post-Soviet partners and rejected (or even undermined) by others.

Russia, which is seeking a stronger position in Central Asia, has to take into account the fact that China, an equal (or in certain respects stronger) economic and political rival, is also present in the region. In this context, the West, as seen from Moscow, looks like the geopolitical counterbalance needed to trim Beijings great and soaring ambitions.

Afghanistan and China are two factors that Moscow cannot ignore when pursuing its otherwise independent Central Asian policy. It should be said that Kazakhstan has been and remains Russias closest ally and strategic partner.

In the context of Russias relations with Central Asia, the interests of the sides are not always identical, however there are no contradictions between them on the most important issues, including geopolitics and strategic security.

The positions and opinions of our Russian colleagues are highly important as factors directly affecting the Kremlins Central Asian policy.

Russian Authors about the Region in the Late Putin Period

During Vladimir Putins second presidential term, relations between Moscow and the West went from bad to worse; the Russian leaders blamed the fairly impertinent policy of the United States and its allies in Central Asia and across the post-Soviet expanse, for that matter.

The political scientific and partly Orientalist community responded with political scientific and geopolitical assessments of the Wests strategies. Andrey Kazantsevs Bolshaia igra s neizvestnymi pravilami: mirovaia politika i Tsentralnaia Azia (The Big Game with Unknown Rules: World Politics and Central Asia) is one of.


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