Central Asia

Authored by: Mariya Y. Omelicheva

Routledge Handbook of Russian Foreign Policy

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138690448
eBook ISBN: 9781315536934
Adobe ISBN:


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The chapter provides an overview and explanation of Russia’s foreign policy in Central Asia focusing on security cooperation, energy cooperation, trade and economic relations, and Russia’s effort to sustain its appeal as the foremost partner of Central Asian states. It assesses the record of Russia’s successes and failures in the region through the lenses of alternative theoretical approaches, but advocates for a critical geopolitics perspective for examining Moscow’s foreign policy. The latter approach shifts the discussion of foreign policy from the materialist foundations to the realm of discursive constructions, the so-called geopolitical visions about global politics and Russia’s place in the world. According to a critical geopolitics perspective, Russia’s interests toward Central Asia have been complex and changing. The Kremlin has visualized Central Asia as a zone of geopolitical contestation with the West. Russia’s economic and energy polices in Central Asia have been influenced by Moscow’s statist thinking and the tradition of patron-client economic relations. The region has also been featured in Russia’s civilizational narratives highlighting its right to play a decisive role in the regional and global politics. These geopolitical visions have provided Russia with a repertoire of ideas informing its foreign policy in Central Asia.

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