Is Russia Succeeding in Central Asia?

Abstract

On a number of recent occasions, the top Russian leadership has expressed its special interest in the affairs of former Soviet republics, including the assertion that Russia has a “privileged” relationship with these now independent states. Is this a claim of accomplished fact, of future intention, or perhaps an empty expression of nostalgia for lost status? As we see it, the record of Russian actions in the largest group of these states—the five of Central Asia—allows us to exclude the first and question whether the second is realizable. Russia must contend with the aspirations of those states themselves, as well as the determined interests of China and, to a lesser extent, the West.

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