Staunton, May 21 – Russia has been losing ground in Central Asia to China in the East and the European Union and the US in the West largely because Moscow is focusing on Ukraine and lacks the resources to make the investments that the five countries of Central Asia need, according to Arkady Dubnov.
But Moscow is compounding these objective reasons by failing to hide its irritation at Russia’s loss of position, the Russian specialist on the region says. Neither China nor the West talks to the Central Asians the way the Russians do, and the attitudes behind Russian statements are costing Moscow dearly (rbc.ru/politics/21/05/2023/64677fc49a79472fac8cab00).
The Chinese in particular, Dubnov continues, “avoid making demarches that would be unpleasant for the Central Asian countries. They don’t want to put the region in a humiliating position,” unlike what the Russians do. Moscow regularly “reprimands” the Central Asians for “incorrect behavior” while Beijing is “behaving far more carefully.”
This subjective even stylistic difference may be even more important than the objective causes; and if it is, Russia is going to find it ever more difficult to limit the further decline in its influence there, let alone recover the positions it had only a few years ago, the Russian expert suggests.