Monday, August 1, 2022

In Wake of Karakalpak Protests, Moscow and Beijing have Parallel Interests and Agendas in Uzbekistan, Kazantsev and Lebedev Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 29 – Moscow and Beijing have reacted to the protests in Karakalpakstan and their suppression by Tashkent in strikingly similar wars, Andrey Kazantsev and Sergey Lebedev say, the result of the fact that the two major powers have very similar agendas as far as Uzbekistan is concerned.

            The two, one a professor at the Higher School of Economics and the other an instructor at the Russian State University of the Humanities, argue that officials in Moscow and Beijing reacted to the Karakalpak events in the same way, interpreting them as an effort to produce a color revolution (

            In both capitals, officials and experts expected Tashkent to expand cooperation with security groupings like the Organization of the Collective Security Treaty which Uzbekistan has distanced itself and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization with which it is still close. Uzbek analysts doubt Tashkent will rejoin the former but closer ties are likely.

            One reason that both Moscow and Beijing view the Karakalpak events as they do, Kazantsev and Lebedev continue, is that they see them as part of the more general destabilization of Central Asia triggered by the Taliban victory in Afghanistan and the spread of Islamist radicalism northward and eastward, something neither Russia nor China wants.

            Both powers also want to keep Uzbekistan neutral or at least prevent it from offering bases on its territory to the US or any other outside country. Both want economic stability and expanded trade with Uzbekistan. And both believe that what happens in Uzbekistan will affect the broader region and their ability to cooperate with it.

            Kazantsev and Lebedev published their analysis in the main newspaper of Kyrgyzstan, but what makes it worthy of wider notice is that it reflects a reality that some in the West often underrate. Russia and China do have common interests in places like Central Asia and are not cooperating with each other there or elsewhere solely because of their opposition to the West.


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