Central Asia’s New Dilemma
Join the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) for a lecture on how Central Asia will position itself in the world as Russia, China and the United States recalibrate their global strategies. Register here.
The countries of Central Asia, like all states, face the imperative to adjust their policies when global politics turn turbulent, even as they respond to regional security challenges. In the 1990s these five countries sought wide international attention to support their political sovereignty, with varying degrees of success. In the 2000s, they found themselves to be of more interest to three superpowers: the United States, China and Russia, with the United States and Russia, in particular, viewing one another as competitors in the region. For the governments of Central Asia, early hopes that this great-power competition could benefit their states quickly faded. Rather than successfully playing off the bigger powers against each other, local elites encountered increased risk as the larger powers sought to influence Central Asian economies and internal politics for their own purposes. Now, the Central Asian governments need to find solutions to a new dilemma: as the United States, China and Russia recalibrate their policies and interests, and in some cases turn away from the region, Central Asian states must seek to preserve the benefits of great power attention while not becoming pawns in any competitions that may emerge.
Ivan Safranchuk, Non-Resident Senior Associate, Russia and Eurasia Program, CSIS