By Johan Engvall
March 7, 2022
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 created shockwaves with profound effects in most corners of the world. However, few regions were poised to be as deeply affected by the war as Central Asia. Entrenched political, military, economic and cultural dependencies link the Central Asian states to Russia, which made their future look bleak when Russia commenced its full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the west responded by sanctioning the Russian economy. One year later, the following question emerges: how has the war affected Central Asia-Russia relations and how has the Central Asian states adjusted their external policies to cope with a turbulent geopolitical environment?
By Natalia Konarzewska
January 12, 2023
During his visit to Kazakhstan on September 14, China’s President Xi Jinping asserted that China supports Kazakhstan’s territorial integrity and independence, and opposes any interference in Kazakhstan’s internal affairs. Xi's remarks sounded like a thinly veiled warning to Russia. Moscow has ramped up its aggressive rhetoric against Astana over its refusal to support Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, which Kazakhstan has interpreted as a possible Russian threat to its territorial integrity. China’s explicit support for Kazakhstan should also be considered against the backdrop of Russia’s recent military defeats in Ukraine, which have exposed multiple military weaknesses.
By S. Frederick Starr
September 6, 2022
Speaking on Uzbekistan’s independence day, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev addressed a somber memorial ceremony dedicated to the “victims of political repression” during the Soviet era. He focused on the Uzbek reformers known as Jadids that were killed or suppressed in the early Soviet period. He also addressed at length Moscow’s singling out of Uzbekistan during the “cotton crisis” of the 1980s. This speech was remarkable because it effectively shifted the blame for Uzbekistan’s historical woes from Stalin or Communism to Russian imperialism. The same day, Mirziyoyev pledged to expand the power of the country’s armed forces, indicating the seriousness with which Uzbekistan’s leaders view developments in recent months, chief among them Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
By Kornely Kakachia
September 5, 2022
Georgia has struggled to achieve its foreign policy goals of restoring its territorial integrity and achieving Euro-Atlantic integration. In recent years, Georgia’s relations with the West have cooled somewhat as a result of Georgia’s internal problems, while the Georgian Dream government’s normalization policy with Russia has led to an increase in Russian influence in the country. In effect, a pro-Western foreign policy was replaced by a balancing approach between Russia and the West. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exposed the limits of this having the-cake-and-eating-it approach, which has led to the question whether the GD government lost its foreign policy compass, at a time when its domestic objective to stay in power clashes with the reforms needed to push for EU membership.
By Farkhod Tolipov
May 31, 2022
Russia’s war in Ukraine has become an existential geopolitical challenge for all former Soviet republics. Uzbekistan’s formulation and expression of a position on the war has been difficult in an ethical and political sense. Positioning on this matter is also a serious test for the strategic partnership and unity of Central Asian states. At the UNGA, Uzbekistan did not vote on the resolution blaming Russia for aggression against Ukraine. However, it voted against the exclusion of Russia from the UN Human Rights Committee. Uzbekistan’s MFA later brought some clarity to Tashkent’s position, which could potentially irritate Moscow. The curse of positioning reflects the enduring and perplexing geopolitical status-quo in Central Asia.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.