Staunton, Nov. 27 – Those Central Asians who say they back Moscow on Ukraine do so not because they have accepted any ideological themes that the Russian authorities have sought to promote but primarily because of pragmatic considerations of what Russia might do to them if they don’t, according to Kasiet Uzmanova.
The director of the Central Asian Barometer says most Central Asians prefer to remain neutral because they are concerned about what Moscow might do, with those who fear Moscow’s actions most inclined to back Putin’s war even though on closer examination, they blame Moscow for the conflict (cabar.asia/ru/dekolonizatsiya-v-tsentralnoj-azii-vozmozhnosti-i-riski).
Uzmanova says this pattern is interesting because Central Asians adopt a very pragmatic position despite being inundated with Russian ideological messages on the television they watch and the films they view. They “support Russia because they fear hardcore consequences for their countries not out of concern about ‘the decaying West’ or belief that ‘Russia is our protector.’”
Her observations suggest that anyone relying on public opinion polls in this region as well as elsewhere needs to keep in mind why people are saying what they are because those who take pragmatic positions as Central Asians do may quickly change their minds if they conclude that Russia is no longer in a position to impose real penalties on them.