Today concluding my review of this piece. Where we left off, things were looking fairly bleak for Russia, on the Central Asia front. Seems like Western NGO’s and Gauleiters have the region eating out of their hands, with corruption and greed being the main motivators. Regional and national elites must toe the Westie line by snubbing Russia, going along with the sanctions, and saying nice things about the Ukraine.
On the other hand, Russia does have a nice card in the deck: the so-called Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), aka the “Tashkent Pact”. In Russian it’s called Организация Договора о коллективной безопасности (ОДКБ). This treaty joins Russia with Kazakhstan, Kirgizia and Armenia; and, realistically might become the hub whereby Russia evades sanctions.
Here is the racket: all of these countries (except for Russia) enjoy all the wonderful privileges of trading with the West. They are allowed to purchase marvelous goods which appear, a little bit later, on the shelves of Russian stores. As the Russian news agency “Sputnik” reports, hardly had Coca-Cola disappeared from Russia when — boom! — it’s suddenly back again. Along with other delicious beverages such as Fanta and Sprite. The only difference is, the labels are now written in the Kirgiz language. It’s a win-win situation: the Central Asian countries turn a nice profit by re-selling Westie goods to hungry Russian consumers; and said Russian consumers are not forced to make that fatal choice between patriotism and a refreshing cola. And, oh so typical, of that Asian “bazaar” mentality of which everyone speaks: Political rhetoric is one thing, economic reality and hard cash are something else entirely.
Next we meet another pundit named Semen (pronounced “Semyon”, and obviously a variant of the Biblical name Simon) Uralov. His specialty is studying the post-Soviet political and economic space.
Uralov explains how Russia’s post-Soviet allies find themselves trapped between Scylla and Charybdis. Navigating this dangerous strait requires very clear rules about what is expected/required of each partner, in a tight inter-relationship based on the notion of parity. His interpretation of the declarations made by Kazakhstan and Kirgizia regarding the Ukraine situation: This is simply an attempt to preserve the appearance of a neutral status, based on the need to avoid economic repercussions. “We also need to distinguish between the position of society and the position of the governments. Russia should respect the need of Kirgizia and Kazakhstan to distance themselves, as this stance is also beneficial to Russia as well. But, in return, it is expected of them to help Russia out with this type of parallel import, it’s a way of getting past the restrictions. Plus, it is also necessary for the local societies, which the West has nothing to offer to, to take a more active position and openly support Russia’s Special Operation in the Ukraine. Russia in turn needs to put in a lot of effort and explain to these societies what its actions are, and the actions of the opponent [and justify its actions].
“All the more so since, as far as I can tell, the majority of the population in Central Asia supports Russia. And therefore we need to interact with these populations as well as with their governments. We need to explain to them how our Special Operation will lead to a new world order, both in the global as well as local sense, in other words in the post-Soviet space. And Russia will inevitably seek to renovate its relationships with all of its allies. Therefore, he who performs better in this crisis, is the one who will receive more of the economic bonuses.”
In conclusion: I have to say that, in reading this piece, I didn’t see a whole lot of evidence that these Central Asian nations are helping Russia against Ukraine, all that much. Unless there is more going on behind the scenes than we know about. But looking on the bright side: Their professed neutrality is way better for Russia than the worst-case scenario as envisioned by the U.S. State Department. When one recalls that all of these nations were on the chopping block for color revolutions and the installation of pro-American governments around Russia’s periphery.