Russia’s Geopolitical influence in Central Asia
A multi-national resources company situated in Central Asia was concerned that Russian influence in domestic politics would impact project operations. In the post-soviet period Russia has found it hard to come to terms with its role and the reality of the diminished influence it now has in the neighbouring countries that were once aligned with the USSR.
Against a backdrop of recent Chinese investment throughout Central Asia, our client was concerned about Russia’s response to Chinese investment in their project. sarmat was hired to conduct a comprehensive assessment of Russia’s Geopolitical Influence in Central Asia.
Based on our founders previous experience in geopolitical research within Central Asia, we began by examining the historical relationship between Russia and Central Asia. This included identifying the key historical events that have shaped the relations between the two countries over time and set the context for the current situation.
We then conducted a comprehensive analysis of the current trade, investment, security and political dimensions. This included qualitative interviews to uncover any underlying social and business sentiment. Finally, we identified key influences and events likely to emerge over the next five years that would have an impact on the geopolitical relationship between the two countries. We also investigated the relationships between China and Central Asia and other parties that would likely disrupt the status of the bilateral relationship.
The company’s board used the market insights that sarmat generated to develop its business plans and to adjust its risk profile that subsequently secured project financing to expand operations.
We identified Russia’s approach towards Central Asia, its key interests, recent policy initiatives and engagement – and some tentative pointers for the period ahead, and questions about the challenges likely to be faced.
We uncovered a perspective that suggests Russia will seek to strengthen its influence in Central Asia through energy as a strategy to counter a weakened borderland in Eastern Europe. Although Russia’s can no loner exert political and economic influence in Central Asia, it is still a preponderant regional player in Central Asia.
Conventional wisdom holds that China and Russia have managed to reach a tacit understanding over their respective roles in Central Asia. Some argue that, with Beijing effectively conceding to Russia the leading role in an emerging security architecture, the threat of a renewed Great Game in the region has been deferred. Others concur that, to many observers’ surprise, Central Asian states have not become objects of rivalry between Moscow and Beijing, but rather a major unifying element in Sino-Russian relations.