Russia to regain position of the key player in Central Asia

This is the most important outcome of the CACO summit in Dushanbe, CIS summit in Astana and the SCO summit in Tashkent.

And the point is that Uzbekistan met the traditional partner and ally halfway. The cause for such metamorphosis to be understood, there is no need to make hard efforts as the cause is on the surface and a series of acts of terrorism induce the leaders of the countries to search for reliable allies and partners.

Today political figures of various ranks acknowledge the futility of fighting international terrorism through efforts of one country, there is a need for combined efforts by the international community. It is noteworthy that at the regional level such efforts are acquiring practical character. The setting up of Anti-Terror Centre under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is an initial move toward this objective. Russia and China, the leaders of this organization are very serious about the fight against terrorism. The other members-states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization are not on the sidelines either.

Another important facet of relationship is economic cooperation among the SCO member-countries. China and Russia with their vast economic potential are the locomotive of this cooperation. At the same time one should keep in mind that they are rivals in gaining influence on the Central Asia states. Therefore there is no accident that they are making maximum use of economic levers to tip the scales in their own favour. Fabulous credits allocated to Uzbekistan by China speak for themselves.

Commerce and economic cooperation have always been the key Chinese instrument in gaining influence. It is noteworthy that markets in Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrghyzstan are swarming with countless Chinese merchants. The everyday life in the entire CIS expanse is closely associated with Chinese goods. These facts convincingly testify that China is gaining formidable position in these countries.

Russia is not watching these developments impartially. The leaders of this country realize that declarations about traditional friendship are not effective. In certain cases strategic objectives to be attained, one should make economic concessions.

The outcome of the recently held summit of the Central Asia Cooperation Organization is an example of pragmatism and efficiency. Russia has become a full member of this regional structure and immediately set about finding a solution to the problem which had been between it and Tajikistan in the last years.

An Agreement on the status of a Russian military base in the immediate neighbourhood to Afghanistan and Uzbekistan was signed. The leader of Uzbekistan who would be critical about the setting up of a Russian military base in the territory of Tajikistan appreciated the wisdom of the Russian leader. Moreover, the President of Uzbekistan stated clearly: ”Russia’s membership in the Central Asia Cooperation Organization no doubt increases the significance and importance of this organization. We accept that Russia pursues its own interests in Central Asia and therefore Russia’s decision to join this organization as a full member deserves respect and support.”
This curtsy toward Russia is quite understandable.

While fighting international terrorism at the far approaches to its borders, Russia not only protects its own national interests but also makes considerable contribution to the maintenance of peace and stability in the entire territory of Central Asia that meets vital interests of Uzbekistan and other countries in the region.

Apart from military and political guarantees, Russia's participation in activities by Central Asia Cooperation Organization will help countries of the region finally settle long-standing problems such as water resources management, customs and transport tariffs unification, power resources supply, etc.

Now countries of the region including Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan do not have to rival for the leadership in this organization-the priority will be given to Russia.

However the USA is not a country to watch these developments impartially. This superpower will not allow any country to impose its terms in the US influence zone and will not tolerate infringement of its interests. The might and vast potential of this country enable it act in a way required for the protection of its national interests.

So far interests of the USA and Russia in Central Asia have not clashed as the fight against international terrorism requires combined efforts by all the countries. And this fight is far from completion. Therefore direct confrontation between Russia and the USA in the immediate future is not feasible. The USA will make use of all possible economic levers (the notorious carrot and stick policy) to reinforce its position in the Central Asia region. It is no accident that the official visit by the NATO Secretary General to Central Asia coincided in time with the CACO summit in Dushanbe.

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Author`s name Andrey Mikhailov