Mels Omarov, Ph.D. (Hist.), deputy director, Institute for Strategic Analysis and Forecasting at the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan)

Noor Omarov, D.Sc. (Hist.), professor of Political Science, Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan)

The Soviet Union left behind a geopolitical vacuum in Central Asia which augmented the interest of outside powers in the region. Indeed, its advantageous geopolitical location, natural riches (oil and gas in particular), as well as transportation potential and the possibility of using it as a bridgehead in the counter-terrorist struggle have transformed Central Asia into one of the most attractive geopolitical areas.

The great powers highly divergent interests have led to their sharp rivalry over influence in the region; after 9/11 this rivalry became even more pronounced. The United States, Russia, and the European Union are the key actors; this article will look at the specifics of their regional policy.

Russia-Central Asia

Amid the turmoil of the contemporary world, at a time brimming with global, regional, and national challenges and threats, the Central Asian states, like all the other states the world over, need one another and cherish their contacts. This is true of their relations with Russia.

This is not exhausted by their geographic proximity and 150 years of common history. In the post-Soviet period, each of the newly independent states (NNS) had to ensure its national interests; Russia, the Central Asian, and certain other NNS united into the Commonwealth of Independent Sates (CIS).

Russias current Foreign Policy Conception identifies a belt of good-neighborly relations along the perimeter of Russias borders as one of its important strategic aims and speaks of the need to promote elimination of the existing and prevent the emergence of potential hotbeds of tension and conflicts in the regions adjacent to the Russian Federation, as well as uphold in every possible way the rights and interests of Russian citizens and fellow-countrymen abroad.

The CIS countries are obviously regarded as one of the main trends in Russias foreign policy because the perimeter of Russias borders roughly corresponds to its borders with the NNS, where over twenty million Russian citizens reside.

The same foreign policy document goes on to say: A priority area in Russias foreign policy is ensuring conformity of multilateral and bilateral cooperation among the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to the countrys national security tasks. The emphasis will be placed on

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