Continuing with this analysis regarding Russia’s relationships with its Central Asian neighbors. Well, relationships with neighbors are often complicated, especially when there is a lot of history there; even more so in times of war; and especially in current conditions, where said neighbors are under enormous pressure from the West, to join the anti-Russia Crusade.
The basic theme of this piece is that said neighbors are secretly rooting for Team Russia against Team Ukraine. But they can’t show their true colors on their sleeves, because … have to publicly suck up to West. Hence the demonstrative displays such as banning the letter Z and forbidding pro-Russian demonstrations, and so on.
Having laid out that thesis, I must express a bit of my own skepticism. From my own superficial knowledge of this region, I am somewhat aware that anti-Russian sentiment does exist in these countries, among a certain portion of the population, and that the governments from time to time have grappled with issues of trying to distance themselves more from the Russian world. For example, by trying to move from the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet, that sort of thing. I wrote about some of these issues in past blogposts, for example, this series from 2020 called “Alphabet Soup”.
In truth, it is a complicated history and a complicated process. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to find pro-Ukrainian (because anti-Russian) elements among both population and ruling elites. Nonetheless, let us return to the reporter’s take on what is happening there, based on his interviews with respected experts who have studied this region for many years.
Keeping Up Appearances
Kirgiz President Sadyr Japarov has stated the following: “We are a small country. We don’t have the kind of influence that could stop this conflict [between Russia and Ukraine], therefore we must adopt a neutral position.” Kazakhstan leaders have stated on more than one occasion that they have no intention of helping Russia get around Western sanctions, fearing that they themselves may fall under the same sanctions. Kazakh President Tokaev: “Sanctions are sanctions, we cannot bypass them, all the more so as we have been informed, that should we try to bypass these sanctions, then we ourselves will be subject to so-called secondary sanctions against our own economy.” Admittedly, this sounds quite different from a ringing endorsement of Western values, it sounds more like: “The bully told me if I tried to help the other guy, then he would punch ME in the nose as well!”
For much the same reasons, Tokaev has demonstratively also refused to recognize DPR/LPR. As did Uzbek leader Kamilov. Who has insisted that he will remain friends with both sets of warring cousins, Russia and Ukraine.
Neighboring Tajikistan has adopted a slightly different tactic in dealing with the Russia-Ukraine war: They just pretend it isn’t happening, and their media never report on it. This way they don’t have to worry about saying something that will tick off either side.
All of this is taking place against the background of an unprecedented informational war, waged on the part of the West. For example, Western influence caused Kirgiz officials to ban the showing of several pro-Russian films which depicted the war in the Donbass in a way that was sympathetic to the people of the region. Political pundit Igor Shestakov, whom we met previously, connects this banning of Russian films to the influence of Western NGO’s [yalensis: which we know, realistically, are all funded by the American CIA]. These NGO’s operate freely and roam the steppes of Central Asia as if the land belonged to them. Shestakov: The position of the pro-American NGO’s, which demanded that these films be removed from the theaters, turned out to be more effective than the actions of those who supported this particular film festival. The result was that the Kirgiz government caved to them and banned the films. The good news is that the publicity turned out to be a good advertisement for the movies.”
In addition to the NGO’s, the Central Asian Republics are also routinely visited by American officials who make sure that everybody stays in line. For example, there is an American General named Michael Kurilla who recently completed a whirlwind tour of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kirgizia. Kurilla commands CENTCOM and is the point-person for organizing American military operations in Ukraine. Given this level of attention on the part of the Americans, it is clear that the latter want, with all their hearts, to split Central Asia away from Russia. And the weak economies of the Central Asian nations make them vulnerable to Western blackmail. Not to mention the economic impact of 30 years worth of grants, and the growth of an entire economy and social layer based on feeding at the trough of these grants. Plus the endless propaganda and manufacturing of a “public opinion” that is favorable to the U.S.
Given all of this, it sounds rather dubious that Russia could find any chance of friendship or even alliance coming out of this toxic neighborhood. But you would be surprised…
[to be continued]