The CSS Blog Network

Central Asian States: Is Intra-Regional Integration Possible?

Image courtesy of the Kremlin.ru. (CC BY 4.0)

This article was originally published by the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) on 3 October 2019.

For a long time, the five Central Asian republics have presented a puzzle to researchers and policymakers regarding regional cooperation. They have a range of historical, linguistic, religious and political aspects in common: they were all part of the same bloc, the Soviet Union; they have Russian as a lingua franca, while most national languages are part of the Turkic linguistic family and largely mutually intelligible; Sunni Islam is the region’s predominant religion; and they exhibit similar political systems. Furthermore, Central Asian states share the fate of being situated in a largely neglected, landlocked region surrounded by more populous, powerful neighbours, namely Russia and China.

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Kazakhstan on the Belt, on the Road

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This week’s graphic highlights the energy and transport infrastructure that passes through Kazakhstan. For an insight into Kazakhstan’s role as a linchpin for trade, transport and more regarding China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), see Benno Zogg’s recent CSS Analyses in Security Policy here.

Kazakhstan’s Quiet Balancing Act

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev at a UN visit in Geneva. Image: UN Geneva/Flickr

This article was originally published by Open Democracy Russia and Beyond on 31 August, 2015.

With a ‘president for life’, poor human rights record and hydrocarbon-dependent economy, Kazakstan often appears a mirror image of its northern neighbour, Russia.

Scratch beneath the surface, and you find a post-Soviet state, which, though similar in behaviour to its Russian counterpart, is making its own path. » More

China’s Proposed Silk Road: Problems and Priorities in Central Asia

Image: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by RSIS in the 167th edition of RSIS Commentary on 20 August, 2014.

The Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) proposal put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping is considered a new model for regional and South-South cooperation. It is also the priority area for China’s all-round opening up and neighbourly diplomacy. While SREB potentially involves over 40 Asian and European countries, Central Asia occupies the centerpiece of the Belt. » More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Alarms Central Asian Strongmen

Euromaidan Kiev 2014-02-18. Image: Wikipedia.

The Russia-Ukraine crisis is having a profoundly unsettling effect on authoritarian-minded governments in Central Asia. On the one hand, they are keen to keep the forces unleashed by the Euromaidan movement at bay; on the other, they appear unnerved by the Kremlin’s power play.

State-controlled media outlets in Central Asian states are reticent when it comes to covering developments in Kyiv, Crimea and elsewhere in Ukraine. The parallels between the ousted and allegedly corrupt president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, and leading members of Central Asian elites are obvious to many in the region, so it’s not surprising that the Euromaidan Revolution has received little play in Central Asia’s press. » More

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