Has the Kremlin’s policy with Central Asian countries changed after Putin’s re-election?

Since the re-election of Vladimir Putin to a fifth term, Russian policy towards the countries of Central Asia (CA) continues to be characterized by a dual strategy, combining diplomatic assurances and strict political measures. The Kremlin is trying to strengthen its influence in a region that is key to its geopolitical and economic interests. Radio Azatlyk reported this.

Putin is now actively seeking to increase Russia’s influence in Central Asia, using both economic and military tools. The Russian leader’s visits to countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan underscore the importance of these ties. The leaders of these countries see cooperation with Russia as a way to ensure security and economic growth. For example, Uzbekistan welcomed Putin to Tashkent with grand preparation, despite international sanctions and an arrest warrant for the Russian president issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Western sanctions against Russia over military aggression in Ukraine are creating additional difficulties for the economies of Central Asian countries closely linked to Russia. These sanctions limit export and import opportunities, which reduces income and opportunities for migrant workers working in Russia. In response, the Kremlin offers support and assistance in circumventing sanctions, which allows the Central Asian countries to remain in economic cooperation with Moscow. For example, Uzbekistan has become one of the main countries exporting sanctioned goods to Russia.

 

Reaction of Central Asian countries

Political scientists note that authoritarian regimes in Central Asia continue to focus on the Russian model of governance, copying the legislative and political practices of Moscow. At the same time, independent initiatives for regional integration are strengthening, aimed at increasing their own subjectivity and reducing dependence on Russia. For example, Kazakhstan is actively developing relations with China and the West in order to balance Moscow’s influence.
Russia’s policies in the field of migration and trade have a direct impact on the society and economy of Central Asia. Central Asian countries, especially Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, depend on remittances from their citizens working in Russia. However, the tightening of Russian migration policy and Russia’s economic problems are forcing migrants to look for other areas for work.

 

Geopolitical interests

Russia continues to provide military assistance to Central Asian countries, strengthening its bases and conducting joint exercises. This creates the impression of support and protection from the Kremlin. At the same time, Russia seeks to control the political situation in the region, supporting loyal regimes and preventing possible pro-Western or pro-Chinese shifts.
The re-election of Vladimir Putin for a new term strengthened his influence on the countries of Central Asia. Despite external criticism and internal challenges, these countries continue to actively cooperate with the Kremlin, taking into account both the potential benefits and risks. Russia’s “carrot” and “stick” policies are evident in the balancing act between support and control in relations with the Central Asian republics. Thus, the future of relations between Russia and the countries of Central Asia will depend on the ability of these countries to maneuver between the benefits of economic cooperation with Moscow and the need to avoid falling under sanctions and political pressure. Well, or it’s time to decide…