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Central Asia is merely an arena of conflict among great powers
Material posted: -Publication date: 02-03-2013

Kyrgyz expert Esen Usubaliev, candidate of historical Sciences, Director of the Analytical Center "Prudent Solutions" in an exclusive interview with CA-News was told about the influence of world powers on the processes taking place in Central Asia.

According to Usubaliev, Central Asia is an arena for the confrontation between Russia, USA and China. According to the expert, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan - the "extreme points" of Russian interests in the region and here we can expect the strengthening of foreign policy activity of Russia. The United States will continue to implement its policy of strengthening the regional position of Uzbekistan, especially in military terms, and China will continue to develop their economic projects regardless of the degree of confrontation between Russia and the United States.

- Esen, Asankulovich, Central Asia is an arena of geopolitical games of the USA, Russia and China. Which of these countries has the biggest influence on the processes taking place in CA?

The question is quite logical, given the fact that these countries have their strategic interests in the region, but the goals are different, and different spheres of influence to which they are applying.

Russia has traditionally regarded Central Asia as a sphere of their vital historical interest, but now can act only as a guarantor of security in the region through existing structures - the CSTO and system for the sale of weapons, is closely linked to the Russian Military industrial complex. Economic projects, but rather economic sphere of influence once lost, now just beginning to gain momentum in draft form Customs Union, but its economic best is still difficult to assess, whereas in reality, the benefits for partner countries of Russia (Belarus and Kazakhstan) more political - demonstration of loyalty to Russia. Kazakhstan and Belarus, as the country with authoritarian rule, and thereby receive a guarantee of safety of its modes except for "threat" from Russia for his reign.

China, as a country with a delicate and cautious foreign policy, never openly challenged Russia's right to call Central Asia a zone of its historic vital interests. Delicate China and Central Asian countries, because never in the history of diplomatic relations, China did not exert open pressure on countries in the region on various issues. All of their steps in Central Asia, China prefers to make in close consultation with Russia or with the exchange of views with the Russian leadership. However, consultation does not mean that China does not conduct its own policy - he has informed Russia, but implements the policies, due to its strategic interests. China - the main and only applicant for the exclusive economic influence in the region in the near future. His main approach in the region - as well as threats to the security of China in the implementation of economic projects in the border countries.

USA is the only country that challenges the right of Russia to act as a guarantor of security in Central Asia. Their economic engagement in the region is minimal, open conflict with China and Russia now, but all US policy in the region is the establishment of control zones in the centre of the vital political, economic and transport-energy of communications, PRC and Russia. A gradual transition in Uzbekistan in the zone of influence of the U.S. and the West is a potential threat to energy projects China, because this country is a gas pipeline running from Turkmenistan to China.

Overall, it is obvious that Central Asia is merely an arena of conflict among the great powers, and the answer to the question about the extent of their influence in the region to give prematurely. Now we can only say that Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are "extreme points" of Russian interests in the region. It is here, in my opinion one should expect an increased foreign policy activity of Russia. The United States will continue to implement its policy of strengthening the regional position of Uzbekistan in military terms, with future expansion of the zone of influence also in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Economically China will continue to develop their projects regardless of the degree of confrontation between Russia and the United States, strengthening economic ties with the region.

- After the withdrawal of NATO troops in 2014 from Afghanistan, where the vector will be sent to U.S. interests?

- US withdrawal from Afghanistan, I believe, will be marked by a sharp activation of the terrorist groups and organizations. By this time the civil war in Syria should come to any logical conclusion, either the fall of President Bashar al-Assad, or his victory and the coming to political consensus. But in any case, from Syria released a large number of fighters, including the representatives of Central Asian countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their return will mean the resumption of the financing of terrorist activities in Afghanistan and in perspective the Central Asian direction.

There are two important areas of the U.S. in Central Asia is China and Russia. In the struggle for zones of influence in the region, the U.S. is trying to get nearer to the borders of the PRC, to facilitate infinitely militants in Xinjiang (the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region — ed.) and on the Russian direction is the weakening of Kazakhstan as the main ally of Russia. USA it is important to weaken the strategic Union of Russia and Kazakhstan, excluding Kazakhstan. By the way, in Kazakhstan already there is a terrorist underground that is associated with the North Caucasus and Afghanistan, which has already demonstrated itself in attacks over the past two years. In any case, the problem of the change of power in Kazakhstan will be on the agenda in strategic planning for the region.

- Russia promised to support Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in terms of supply of weapons in contrast to the USA who plan to leave Afghan weapons to Uzbekistan. On the background of recent developments in connection with the deterioration of U.S. relations with Russia, is it possible developments as it was in the 50-ies on the Korean Peninsula?

- Here the comparison with the two Koreas is not quite correct, but still the idea is clear. Yes, the region expects an "arms race", but in my opinion this will not lead to military conflict between countries. Moreover, Russian weapons are not in yet, it's only the term that depends on the political situation in the region and action guides Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. While the weapons leave Uzbekistan does not necessarily need for confrontation between the Central Asian countries. Uzbekistan is well-equipped with weapons of Soviet and Russian sample and rearmament under NATO standards is a long process, and it's only beginning. Here we should not forget that in Afghanistan there are large numbers of ethnic Uzbeks, and it is natural that after the US withdrawal of Uzbekistan may feel threatened by Afghanistan, if there is to renewed civil war. Therefore I do not exclude that this weapon can be left for subsequent transfer to the ethnic Uzbek population of Northern Afghanistan, to create a kind of buffer zone between the expected main areas of conflict in Afghanistan.

- While Russia and the United States are actively competing for leadership in Central Asia, China takes a wait and see attitude, what is, in your opinion, is connected? China shares borders with almost many countries in Central Asia, what are the real plans of China to Central Asia?

- Cautious policy of China comes from the foundations of its foreign policy of non-interference in the internal Affairs of neighbouring and the more friendly States. In my opinion, the main purpose of China is to develop an integrated system of economic and transport-energy relations in Central Asia with close reference to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous region and Urumqi as an important financial and trading centre in the region and Eurasia as a whole. This China addresses its goals for the development of Xinjiang and allows the Central Asian countries "to take advantage of the rapid economic growth of China for their welfare and development", as noted in Chinese sources. In reality, cooperation with China is much cheaper comparing with Russia and the USA, since there is not a strong ideological reference to "democratic values" or "determine a single vector of cooperation".

Thank you for the interview.


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