Alexander KNIAZEV

Alexander Kniazev, D.Sc. (Hist.), professor at the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan)

Overview of the Past

In the 1990s Russias position in Central Asia became significantly eroded, not so much for economic reasons, as some Russian politicians allege, but because of its grossly misinterpreted national interests.

It has become customary to associate the radical revision of Russias Central Asian policy with Vladimir Putins presidency. This is very true, but the events of 2000 were no more than the first steps toward fundamental changes.

In 2005, the sovereign democracy conception marked a turning point in Russias foreign policy: the country finally placed its sovereignty above its foreign policy constants and began to slowly retreat from its previous devotion to the Western liberal-democratic principles.

Sovereignty, understood as a synonym for the countrys political competitiveness, made great changes in Russias approach to the CIS: it sided with Uzbekistan in its post-Andijan conflict with the West and began pouring much more energy into the SCO and several other projects. The situation that had taken shape by 2004-2005 in the Western vector of Russias foreign policy and on its southern borders pushed the RF into Asian geopolitics. The U.S.-led military operation in Afghanistan allowed Russia to interfere more openly than before in the Central Asian political processes, which forced China to act accordingly. The Russian Federation could no longer ignore the new realitiesthe balance of power in the region of Russias vital interests was on the verge of..

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