Moscow’s diminished influence in Central Asia

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

A few days ago, a meeting of the foreign ministers of Europe and Central Asia took place.

The foreign ministers of the EU, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan attended the meeting with EU representatives. The EU informed the participants of the meeting about the 11 packages of sanctions against Russia and emphasized the importance of result-oriented dialogue and cooperation in the context of the EU's restriction regimes. "The EU emphasized the importance of preventing the circumvention of sanctions, and the participants agreed to continue their cooperation in this regard," the joint statement added.

These states have primarily acted as "transit points" for importing the necessary sanctioned goods into Russia. They have done so "successfully" enough that Kyrgyzstan has even managed to get under US sanctions. It is clear that this country was not the only one involved in the schemes, but it was a signal to everyone, and the signal was heard. Of course, it needs to be clarified how things will develop further. The EU plans to prepare the 12th package of sanctions, which was announced recently. The emergence of another "problematic member" in the form of Slovakia under Fico will complicate the process. Still, for now, we can focus on the implementation of previous sanctions.

Obviously, by agreeing to a meeting with EU representatives on sanctions issues, the Central Asian ministers show that relations with the EU are of much greater concern to them than a hypothetical reaction from the Kremlin. It is clear that "parallel imports" bring them high incomes, but they obviously do not want to confront the EU either. Apparently, they will be ready to support the sanctions regime, at least formally, and the critical issue here will be to fill the sanctions with concrete content, which has been a problem recently.

Relations with the EU are of much greater concern to them

The fact that the West did not take sanctions seriously allowed Russia to adapt to the new conditions and continue to build up its military potential. This is a problem that needs to be addressed.

At the same time, this situation shows the following: The Kremlin has a lot of money, receives excessive revenues, and can spend it. However, these revenues are the only instrument of their policy now. The Armenian leader says that Russian troops are "superfluous" for them. Azerbaijanis "survive" Russian "peacekeepers." The states of Central Asia (another "zone of influence" that the old man in the bunker dreamed of) go to their EU colleagues to talk about compliance with anti-Russian sanctions. They are not afraid of Russia. Many are ready to trade with it. But they are not afraid of it. For an empire that is used to relying on force, this is not very pleasant. To put it mildly.

We’re bringing the voice of Ukraine to the world. Support us with a one-time donation, or become a Patron!

Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine