Tuesday, March 24, 2020

In New ‘Great Game.’ West Wants to Use Central Asia against Russia and China, Vinnik Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 20 -- When the USSR disintegrated, Western countries tried to establish conventional relations with the countries of Central Asia, setting up military bases and expanding security arrangements in order to strengthen the independence of these regimes both internally and from Moscow, Dmitry Vinnik says.

            But that policy has failed, according to the analyst at the Moscow Institute for Sociological Research; and consequently, the United States has fallen back on an updated version of “the great game” between Great Britain and the Russian Empire in the 19th century (nvo.ng.ru/realty/2020-03-19/3_1086_revolutions.html).

            “The times of Russian-British conflict in Central Asia, known as ‘the Great Game,’ have long passed and it is hardly worth projecting the relations of those years on the contemporary period as has become popular in certain circles,” Vinnik writes in the new issue of Novoye voyennoye obozreniye. 

            There are three reasons for that, he says. First of all, the US not Britain is Moscow’ primary opponent in the region. Second, “the states of Central Asia are no longer the internal provinces of an empire” but have “become relatively independent peripheral states.” And third, China is now playing a growing role, and India may soon do the same.

             “But one factor has not changed,” Vinnik says; “and precisely it is the most sensitive for the security of [Russia]. There exists the geopolitical conviction that it is impossible to inflict military defeat on Russia from the West but that it can be done from the south, cutting Trans-Siberian communications in underpopulated areas and isolating historic Russia.”

            Russian expansion eastward in most cases was driven by economic interests, he continues; but in t eh case of Central Asia, it also had a security dimension and was about preventing the Turkestanis from attacking the Middle Volga, the Urals and Trans-Siberian communications.

            “Practically all researchers [Russian as well as Western] do not tire of repeating that the region is explosive.” And many point out that an social explosion at the center of the region in the Fergana valley will lead to “a colossal flow of refugees to the north, to Kazakhstan and Siberia which humanitarian and soft power methods won’t be able to stop.”

            As long as the West hoped it could simply replace Moscow as the dominant power in Central Asia, it wasn’t interested in triggering an explosion there. But now that that strategy has collapsed and China has entered the picture, the US is prepared to “detonate” the situation and provoke exactly that result to harm Russia.

             “Under conditions of the trend toward de-globalization, our opponents need Turkestan as a new base of ‘the Great Game’ as a unique geopolitical dual-use weapon, a resource for social diversions against Russia and China,” Vinnik concludes.

            He says this is obvious to anyone who reads recent think tank studies from Britain and the US or who attends to what he calls the instructive article that appeared in the Moscow media yesterday about what the German security services did to exploit the 1916 rising in pre-Soviet Turkestan (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/03/1916-turkestan-revolt-prototype-for.html).

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