Eurasia without strangers | Latest news The Moscow Post
03 March 2024

Eurasia without strangers

Russia advocates strengthening military-political security in Eurasia without the intervention of extra-regional forces, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference following the activities of the diplomatic department in 2023.

"We are convinced that the countries of Eurasia are quite able to cope with all this on their own," Lavrov stressed.

It is important to ensure military-political security in Eurasia, so that "this task is solved by the countries of the continent without attempts by extra-regional states to be introduced into these processes with their charter," the minister said.

"Attempts to introduce" on the part of the United States do not become less. The question is how countries that have become targets of malicious politics react to these attempts. In full growth there are questions of how to resist the implementation, what to oppose. Details in the material of the correspondent of The Moscow Post.

Attention, Afghanistan!

Earlier, Russian diplomats used the phrase "extra-regional forces," calling the Americans and their allies so. In July 2005, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that "the military presence of extra-regional forces in Central Asia... contribute to the preservation of stability there as much as it is connected with the implementation of the tasks of combating the terrorist threat in Afghanistan. "

The external (US and NATO) force presence in the region, the diplomatic service said then, "should be curtailed" as threats are overcome. A certain general, Richard Myers, expressed displeasure in this regard. He then served as chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and diplomatically called the Declaration of the SCO countries "not a very useful document." It was clear that the proposal to "collect things" was contrary to the interests of the Pentagon.

The Americans then could not have imagined that they would have to get out of Afghanistan without solving the main problems, including the terrorist threat. Ahead to the "point of no return," it was a decade and a half. "Hooked" on Afghanistan and Central Asia, the US planned to use this as leverage in relations with Russia, China, Iran, India, other players.

Washington and Central Asia

Lavrov's idea, then, in a brief, is to ultimately "squeeze" the US and Anglo-Saxon influence beyond the mega-continent. As the minister said, speaking last year at the opening of a meeting of the colleges of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and Belarus, "it is in the common interests to form a solid military-political foundation that would contribute to the settlement and prevention of conflicts, as well as exclude the possibility of military or other power dictates and dominance by non-regional players."

Afghanistan almost disappeared from the American strategic agenda, but Central Asia remained, acquired special value for Washington.

On the side of Americans are political, informational and educational influence, market access, investment, new trade routes, "so as not to rely too much on only one country."

The State Department reports that over thirty years, more than 40 thousand students, specialists and officials from Central Asian countries have received grants and funding to visit the United States for professional development.

In particular, the Dialogue on Human Rights and Democratic Reforms, the Commission on Expanded Strategic Partnership, the Business Council and the Strategic Energy Dialogue are working in the American direction. The inflow of private equity exceeded $62 billion.

Since 2021, bilateral relations between Uzbekistan and the United States have reached the level of strategic partnership, inter-parliamentary relations are developing, 354 enterprises with the participation of US capital are operating, including 165 enterprises with 100% American capital. The General Motors Powertrain Uzbekistan plant for the production of engines for passenger cars is operating. Boeing supplies modern airliners.

Relations with the United States are considered one of the priorities of Tajikistan's foreign policy. US direct investment in the country's economy in 2014-2022 amounted to $485 million. 35 documents were signed in various fields, including 22 intergovernmental agreements. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) cooperates with Tajikistan. Cooperation has been established within the framework of international organizations.

In September 2023, during the UN General Assembly in New York, Joe Biden held a conversation with the heads of state of Central Asia, including Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. This group, at the suggestion of Washington, agreed to be called "C5 + 1." Fifteen meetings at the level of foreign ministers were held within its framework. Following the meeting with Biden, a joint declaration was adopted. One proposal the White House made was to create an enabling business environment for trade and investment, complementing the "C5 + 1" dialogue. The United States proposed to negotiate on minerals "necessary for the production of clean energy."

For everything "good," against everything Russian

Nevertheless, behind the economic and other agendas, the task is to increase influence in the region, to reconfigure the elites of the "C5" countries in order to reduce the influence of Russia and such organizations as the CIS, SCO, EAEU, CSTO.

Much is said that a stable and protected Central Asia would directly contribute to US efforts to combat terrorism, support regional stability, strengthen energy security, and increase economic prosperity in the region and beyond.

A separate detailed rationale has been developed for the policy in relation to each of the countries in the region. But all approaches have one common anti-Russian dash. In particular, with regard to Kazakhstan, the State Department provides the following rationale: "Disinformation and harmful influence are widespread in Kazakhstan and other countries. Over-reliance on Russian media can be reduced by increasing access to diverse and accurate sources of information, especially in English and Kazakh. "

On Uzbekistan, the position is as follows: "Thanks to its common history and language with Russia, Uzbekistan perceives Russian mass culture and media products, which could weaken US influence. By sharing our culture and experience, the Mission [Embassy] will increase the prestige of Uzbekistan, provide access to more accurate information and positive experience working with the United States, including through wider cultural exchanges. "

In Tajikistan, everything is like a carbon copy, but with local variations and a share of intimidation: "Tajikistan remains the poorest post-Soviet state,... the armed forces and security services suffer from corruption and reliance on Russia as the main guarantor of the stability of the regime.... Since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, Tajikistan has faced additional security challenges arising from the long, permeable border with Afghanistan.... US assistance in this direction will include training, equipping and advising the security forces of Tajikistan. We will work closely with international partners, including the UN, EU and OSCE, to maximize our joint efforts in this area. "

There are no risks or threats from the Russian Federation

This cannot but bother Russia. The United States is trying to expand its influence on training programs for peacekeepers and military personnel in Kazakhstan, Alexander Sternik, director of the third department of the CIS countries of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said in an interview with RIA Novosti. Although we are not talking about the presence of American military specialists and their infrastructure in this country, he assured. "Moreover, all CSTO member countries adhere to the obligation not to allow the deployment of military contingents of third countries without coordination with their allies," the diplomat recalled.

As indicated in the Ministry of Defense of Kazakhstan, the Center for Peacekeeping Operations is a republican state institution, the main purpose of which is "language practice and training of military, police and civilian personnel for peacekeeping operations according to UN standards."

Formally, the former Soviet republics are included in the area of ​ ​ responsibility of the Central Command of the US Armed Forces. Since 2002, the Steppe Eagle exercises have been held there. Since 2002, the Virginia National Guard has partnered with Tajikistan. Since the early 1990s, the Arizona and Montana National Guards have collaborated with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The Mississippi National Guard and Uzbekistan established ties in 2012. Until 2011, Turkmenistan maintained contacts with the Nevada National Guardsmen.

Last year, nearly two hundred military personnel from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, the United States and Uzbekistan worked to synchronize planning, operations and intelligence collection at a training center in Helena, Montana.

Former head of the diplomatic service of Kazakhstan Mukhtar Tleuberdi at a press conference with Anthony Blinken in February 2023 said: "We do not see or feel risks or threats from the Russian Federation. Kazakhstan is a member of the EAEU, CSTO, CIS along with other states that border Russia or are located in this region. Therefore, we consider relations with Russia as an alliance that functions within these multilateral structures. "

Let's hope that these words will not fade under the rays of the scorching sun of Tashkent or rustle in the frosty winds of Astana. But even without this, the problems of preserving a single space of security, culture and economic development within Greater Eurasia cannot be solved by Russia alone.

Photo: RBC

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