The Geopolitical Pull on Russia

Professor Firuz Kazemzadeh of Yale University has cautioned against expecting the five Central Asian states–Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan–to develop into democracies in the near term:

Democracy is a tender plant that has existed for only very short periods of time among very limited numbers of people even in the West. At present, Central Asian republics are governed essentially by the same men who ran them on behalf of Moscow. Whereas a particular leader may be overthrown or voted out, the old ruling apparat is in place and will remain in place for the foreseeable future. There is even less of an alternative to the old communist cadres in Central Asia than there is in Russia.

This observation may well prove accurate with regard to the domestic politics of the Central Asian republics, which are now independent after more than a century of tsarist and Soviet imperial rule. Geopolitically, nevertheless, their independence, international recognition as nation-states, and membership in the United Nations have far-reaching consequences for the region and for the great powers. To grasp the importance of the Central Asian republics, it is necessary to place their emergence on the international stage in a broader perspective.

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