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Ron Wagner

Kazakhstan Is Defying Russia and Has the Support of China. China is Using Russia's Weakness to Expand Its Own Influence.

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Kazakhstan has enormous deposits of oil, natural gas, and minerals. It was formerly part of the Soviet Union and is now against any domination by Russia or China but its population is small while its size is large and it shares long borders with both Russia and China. To its south are the six other countries called The Stans, as a group. All want to remain independent countries. RCW 

Central Asia, The Stans: Kazakhstan / Maps, Geography, Facts | Mappr

Edited by Ron Wagner

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This entire area may become the next Ukraine. The world senses Putin going over the edge. Is there a drive for independence or do these countries want to depend on China vrs Russia. 

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Russia has been weakened , in many ways, by their trouble in handling Ukraine and Europe as  a whole. Central Asia has always feared both China and Russia but it has been dominated more by Russia in recent decades. It now sees an opportunity to strengthen its independence by being more friendly with China versus a weakened Russia with volatile leadership that may change unpredictably. Ukraine has shown that Russia is not as strong as the world once thought it was. It's only real power lies in its nuclear weapons and its natural resources. Central Asia has many of the same natural resources to offer, but needs investment to mine them. Europe and China are ready to do that, but more so if Russia is not a threat to their operations. The longer the war lasts the weaker Russia will get. It is has and is losing many of its finest citizens as well as its tanks, armored personnel carriers, aircraft, ammunition etc. It is turning to North Korea and Iran for help but it cannot get the chips and parts that it relies on. 

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Central Asia Drifts Out of Russia’s Orbit as Ukraine War Rages


7 hours ago
5pB2FkGMCPxmTcgRkdeMlHosD4R8guoa.jpgVladimir Putin at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in UzbekistanTASS /

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — Russia is losing influence over former Soviet nations in Central Asia as the war in Ukraine increasingly strains Moscow’s political, military and economic sway, analysts told The Moscow Times.

“There is growing friction between the Kremlin, its proxies and local Central Asian elites,” said Paul Stronski, an expert on Russia’s relations with Central Asia at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Not only are Central Asia officials concerned about the precedent set by Moscow’s attack on a former Soviet country, but they are also using Russia’s declining influence to re-orientate their economies, according to experts. 

Russia’s diminished role was on display at last week’s meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Uzbekistan where President Vladimir Putin was apparently chided by the Indian and Chinese leaders and kept waiting by heads of state including Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov. 

But a new assertiveness against Moscow has been on display for months, according to Stronski.  

In one of the most striking instances, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev rejected Russian calls to recognize eastern Ukraine’s pro-Moscow separatists in June when on stage with Putin at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. 

And last month, Tokayev’s Uzbek counterpart Shavkat Mirziyoyev pointedly denounced Soviet repressions. 

“Local Central Asian elites are unnerved about the Ukraine precedent,” said Stronski.  

Perhaps most significantly, Moscow was conspicuously absent in a flare-up of violence between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan earlier this month that left over 100 people dead and involved tanks, aviation and artillery. 

Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov and Vladimir Putin at the SCO Summit.           TASS / kremlin.ruKyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov and Vladimir Putin at the SCO Summit.TASS /

Experts like Stronski put Russia’s lack of interest down to reduced capacity as Moscow commits all its resources to Ukraine. 

The changing dynamic of the relationship between Central Asia and Russia was revealed at Putin’s treatment at the SCO summit in Samarkand last week. 

Uzbekistan’s Mirziyoyev personally greeted Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the airport, while dispatching his second in command to welcome Putin shortly after. 

Kremlin watchers marveled at Putin — notorious for leaving high-level guests waiting for hours — being forced to wait for Japarov. And they drew attention to the seating arrangements at an informal reception that placed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the head of the table and relegated Putin to the side.

Finally, Putin was publicly deferential to Xi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, acknowledging their concerns about Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.

“What we’ve seen in Samarkand was Putin’s nullification and self-destruction,” Igor Yakovenko, a former Russian lawmaker, told the U.S.-funded RFE/RL news outlet. “Putin arrived having lost [in Ukraine], and losers are disliked.” 

Russia, China and Turkey are all vying for influence in Central Asia, said Alexei Venediktov, the former editor-in-chief of shuttered radio station Ekho Moskvy.

“But the problem lies in all three of them being in different situations: China is experiencing economic problems, Turkey is building itself up as a regional power, Russia is bogged down in Ukraine.”

However, some experts caution against exaggerating Russia’s declining influence in a region where it has historically exercised significant political power through its size, proximity and close contacts with local elites. 

In particular, Russia’s deployment of peacekeeping troops to Kazakhstan in January after unrest was a reminder of Moscow’s clout. 

Vladimir Putin at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Uzbekistan.           TASS / kremlin.ruVladimir Putin at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Uzbekistan.TASS /

“Authoritarian regimes in Central Asia understand very clearly that only Russia has a certain amount of influence over domestic politics,” said Temur Umarov, an expert on Central Asia at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“This gives Russia leverage,” he told The Moscow Times.

Still, trade figures in 2022 back up claims of Moscow slowly loosening its grip on Central Asia. 

The EU’s largest economy, Germany, boosted trade with Kazakhstan 80% in the first half of 2022 and 111% with Uzbekistan, according to Bloomberg. 

“Kazakhstan is gradually beginning to drift away from Russia,” said Venediktov.

Uzbekistan, Central Asia’s second-largest economy, signed $15 billion worth of trade and investment deals with China at the SCO.

At the same time, the region has largely observed Western sanctions imposed on Russia for its attack on Ukraine. 

“Objectively, no one will close themselves off from Russia because their welfare depends on effective economic cooperation,” said Stanislav Pritchin, an expert on Central Asia at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“But they will try to create an outward image that they’re not helping evade sanctions,” he added.

Banks in Kazakhstan, and to a lesser extent Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, have largely closed a loophole that had allowed Russians to obtain Visa and Mastercard cards after the international payment firms exited Russia. 

And Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Uzbek banks this week suspended Russia’s Mir payment system — which Moscow touts as an alternative to Visa and Mastercard.

In addition, Russia’s top lender Sberbank sold its Kazakh subsidiary earlier this month and there have been reports of Kazakhstan detaining trucks filled with sanctioned European goods bound for Russia.

In both politics and economics, a period of Russian weakness has been a chance for Central Asian states to look further afield. 

“The conflict in Ukraine has given new life to the region’s efforts to balance their foreign policies,” said expert Stronski.


Read more about: Ukraine war , Uzbekistan , Kazakhstan , Kyrgyzstan

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Russian Court Overturns Ban on Kazakh Oil Exports


July 11, 2022
634524542.jpgThe KazMunaiGas building in Nur-Sultan.Meridianets (CC BY-SA 4.0)

A Russian court on Monday overturned a ruling for a 30-day ban on the unloading of oil deliveries from Kazakhstan, a source of tensions between the two countries.

Last week, Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered officials to find oil export routes bypassing Russia in a move that risked deepening tensions that have emerged between the two neighbors over Ukraine.

The order came after a Russian court ordered a 30-day ban on unloading from the 1,500-kilometer (930-mile) pipeline from Kazakh oil fields to the Novorossiysk terminal, citing environmental violations.  

Kazakhstan has already seen two notable interruptions to its crude exports via a pipeline that unloads at the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk in the months since Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in February.

The stoppages have triggered speculation that the Kremlin might be punishing its Central Asian ally for its neutral stance on Ukraine.

But on Monday, a court in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar replaced the 30-day suspension order with a fine of 200,000 rubles ($3,250), said the Caspian Pipeline Consortium which operates the pipeline.

The consortium said that the 30-day halt would lead to "irreversible consequences for the production process."

Speaking at last month's economic forum in St. Petersburg where he was sharing the stage with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, President Tokayev raised eyebrows by calling Russia-backed separatist entities in eastern Ukraine "quasi-states" and saying that Kazakhstan would not recognize them.

Read more about: Kazakhstan , Oil , Ukraine war

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