Home / Articles / Russia and Central Asia: Putin’s Most Stable Region?
Central Asian-Russian relations have proven remarkably stable over Vladimir Putin’s 20 years in power. This is the case even amid the rise of the People’s Republic of China, the war in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan’s revolutions, Kazakhstan’s development, and power transitions in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Putin’s Kremlin has employed elite economic networks to maintain political allegiances and develop personal ties with rising leaders, thus, keeping them intertwined with Russian interests. This phenomenon is observed across the region: from ties between Gazprom and Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev’s family to Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s connection to Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov to the continued influence in Ashgabat of Russian businessman Igor Makarov. The Kremlin continually has utilized such networks and their role in maintaining bilateral relations has continued even amid challenges such as Turkmenistan’s presidential transition and Beijing’s rising influence in the region. Tajikistan serves as the exception that proves the rule, with political ties deeply affected by a failed investment by oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Dushanbe’s dependency on migrant labor in Russia limits it from straying too far from Moscow.