What does Russia’s strategy in Central Asia look like? – Uighur

Recently, Russia has announced that it will strengthen the combat readiness of its military bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. This was stated by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the meeting of the military chiefs of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states.

The announcement of the Russian Defense Minister was highlighted in mass media. The article “Shoigu: Russia will strengthen the combat readiness of its military bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan” published in the “Fargana” news agency said that the situation in Afghanistan and other crisis situations could not be the reason for this.

Speaking at the conference, Shoigu emphasized that international terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and the ideology of religious radicalism is spreading, and drug trafficking and cross-border crimes are increasing. He also said that he supports any initiatives regarding Afghanistan. He also stated that he will use all measures to ensure the security of Central Asia.

In the media of Russia and Central Asia, armed conflict took place on the border of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, and two people were killed and six were injured. But it is not said from which side. This was officially stated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan. In the same way, the specialized agencies of the two sides discussed and admitted that some violations of order were allowed on both sides.

According to news reports, Uzbek border guards found 24 Afghans in canoes breaking the border in the “Aral Prophet” island located in the Amu River. The trespassers were shot when they resisted. The reason why the Afghans broke the border was that they came to the territory of Uzbekistan in search of medicinal plant roots.

Experts have argued that incidents of border conflicts between former Central Asian states, which were allies in the past, also take place between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan from time to time. Discussions on these conflicts continue, but so far have not yielded results.

What does Russia’s strategy in Central Asia look like? Is the situation in the region important for Russia? What else is he worried about besides Afghanistan?

Mr. Piotr Svoik, a political scientist, said: “Russia’s attention is now mainly focused on destroying the anti-Russian project like Ukraine. The existence of other problems is secondary to him. But in general, Russia’s policy is not to allow such anti-Russian designs to exist in a large region like Central Asia under its control. The latter is to subjugate the region to its own political and economic interests. Of course, Afghanistan is also implicitly included in the scope of such interests. Since Afghanistan was freed from the United States, it has become a free space for Russia: firstly, the region is a big problem for Russia, and secondly, its future is important in terms of resources and politics. Therefore, Russia will cooperate with both China and Pakistan on this issue, and with their support and strength, it will try to be in Afghanistan as it was in Syria. In this regard, it is cooperating with both Iran and Turkey. The military exercises that Russia is planning to organize and others are a reflection of its strategic policy in Central Asia.

Piotr Svoik said that Russia is more worried about the situation in Central Asia and its own interests in the region than the border problems between the countries in the region.

Mr. Ruslan Izimov, a researcher, said: “Indeed, now we see that Russia is activating its relations with the Central Asian countries in the military, military-political and military-technical fields. Of course, this is closely related to the prevailing situation in Afghanistan. A year ago, the Taliban took control of the Afghan government and began to establish control over the entire country. But he was unable to seize complete control. It is now known that there are terrorist and radical organizations independent of the Taliban. These forces have their own goals, including the dangers they pose to Central Asian countries. The first is currently Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. In the year since the Taliban came to power, we have seen and heard news about border conflicts with Central Asian countries and military operations in northern Afghanistan. Also, the National Resistance Front is becoming more active here. “It is supported to some extent by Tajikistan and other external powers and is becoming a threat to the Taliban today.”

Ruslan Izimov said that this is also dangerous for Russia, which is trying to ensure the security of the region as much as possible.

“But I don’t think that’s the main reason why Russia is getting more active in Central Asia,” he added. The main reason is that Central Asia is now becoming one of the key areas where the geopolitical interests of Russia and the US-led West and China are in conflict. At a time when Russia is facing the West, of course, Russia is eager to maintain its sphere of influence in Central Asia. The reason is that, as the Russo-Ukrainian war has shown, the use of force in the territories of the former Soviet Union is clearly incapable of providing such control. Therefore, Moscow has left its previous path and relies on mechanisms such as “soft power” and “people’s diplomacy”. There is another point to be made here. This is the current meeting of members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). “I think the organization is becoming a pan-Eurasian organization.”

Ruslan Izimov said that five core countries are members of this organization, and its members who support Russia and China are increasing, and it is becoming a powerful organization against the West.

According to the information, Russia is going to hold several military exercises in the framework of the Collective Cooperation Treaty Organization in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the fall of this year. In addition, Russia is planning to hold such exercises within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

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