The cat is out of the house, the mice are dancing – in relation to the geopolitical situation in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus, this well-known proverb can be translated something like this: while the Russian bear is completely absorbed in the situation in Ukraine (or, to put it more accurately and in the spirit of the time, in those territories , which Moscow previously considered Ukrainian), the “stamp animals” of some other former Soviet republics are in a state of not very well-hidden political throwing.
Everyone understands: to break with Moscow is an idea from the category of something completely unnecessary and completely impossible. But no one in Europe wants to fully agree with the decisive actions of the Kremlin either: the United States has very clearly and convincingly formulated its firm intention to bring down the full burden of secondary sanctions on those who dare to “lean” too close to Moscow.
But America does more than brandish a baton. Washington is no less actively wielding a political carrot, inviting Russia’s current official allies into its best friends.
The most famous recent example of this kind of American action is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Yerevan. In 2022, this lady is actively acting as a global spoiler. Everyone remembers her recent trip to Taiwan, which can still have a very negative impact on the fate of the world. If the planet manages to overcome the Ukrainian crisis, then it is highly likely that a military crisis warmed up by Pelosi over this rebellious Chinese island is ahead of it.
In Yerevan, the American speaker solved the more local problem of separating Armenia from Russia, making statements in the style: Washington is ready to “listen to the needs” of Yerevan in the defense sphere.
Of course, it is possible that we are partly “slandering” Madame Pelosi and that in fact she is not so much interested in large-scale geopolitical goals as in attracting the votes of American voters in the run-up to a very important congressional election. Estimates of the size of the Armenian diaspora in the United States vary greatly – from half a million to two million people. But, in any case, we are talking about a very impressive figure.
However, what are we arguing about? Nancy Pelosi has every opportunity to solve two problems at the same time – geopolitical and party-political – and she actively uses these opportunities.
Fortunately, the American speaker has not been brought to Central Asia yet. On the other hand, from a purely protocol point of view, this September was very rich in events demonstrating the invariability of Moscow’s partnership with the states of the region.
Several news reports from the official website of the Kremlin. “The leaders of the two countries signed the Declaration on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Uzbekistan.” “During telephone conversations between Vladimir Putin, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Japarov and President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, the situation on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border was discussed. Vladimir Putin called on the parties to prevent further escalation and take measures to resolve the situation as soon as possible by exclusively peaceful, politico-diplomatic means, and reiterated Russia’s readiness to provide assistance.”
Everything is as usual, everything is fine? I’m afraid not quite.
A joint declaration is a special “genre” of a diplomatic document that gives the parties the opportunity to declare their intentions, but without making any firm and specific commitments.
And with the conflict between Dushanbe and Bishkek, it is still “more interesting”. When, at the end of 1992, the recent director of the state farm, Emomali Rakhmonov (he became Rakhmon much later), was elected to the then highest position in the republic as chairman of the Supreme Council of Tajikistan, he was the youngest member of the informal “club” of leaders of the countries of the region. But today, only Rahmon remained in the ranks of the then members of that “club”: Niyazov and Karimov died, Nazarbayev retired from active political activity.
According to informed sources, the President of Tajikistan considers himself the most experienced and authoritative politician in the region, its chief aksakal. Since the “word of the elder” is law in Central Asia, Emomali Rahmon decided to “put in his place” the young leader of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Zhaparov: to force him to unilateral territorial concessions using force.
Russia at all levels, including the president, asks Emomali Rahmon not to do this. But the leader of Tajikistan is still weak enough to be persuaded.
The fact that Russia is absorbed in resolving the Ukrainian issue is not the only reason for such intransigence as the “Founder of Peace and National Unity – Leader of the Nation” (one of the official titles of the President of Tajikistan). But in Central Asia, as in other regions of the world, they are very vigilantly watching what is happening on the fields of the Russian-Ukrainian confrontation. They observe and draw conclusions: these ones seem to be winning, and their demands, requests and wishes should be treated more carefully, but these ones cannot catch luck by the tail, and you need to behave more relaxed with them.
The maximum political competitiveness of Russia in Central (or Central, as it is now fashionable to call it) Asia depends on the success of Moscow’s current decisive actions in Europe – this is a truth that cannot be avoided.
Yes, Moscow still has powerful levers of influence on the states of the region – for example, issues of regulating labor migration. It was the hint at the possibility of tightening the screws in this area that forced the President of Kyrgyzstan Zhaparov to abandon the political flirtation with Washington, which almost did not take place this spring.
But neither this nor the fact that such a powerful regional player like China is also not eager to see the strengthening of American positions in Central Asia should obscure the main thing: in order to be successful in Astana, Bishkek and Dushanbe, Moscow must be successful in Kyiv.
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The United States enters the rear of the Kremlin