Vol 18, No 2 (2018): Central Asia: “geopolitical pluralism” and the quest for regional identity



Krylov A.B.


The purpose of this article is to analyze the most significant processes and trends within the former USSR area associated, primarily, with domestic economic and political problems, the results of 25 years of independent development of former Soviet republics, specifics of their political and social and economic transformation. These and other topics are considered in the context of Russia’s interests and the role of Russia on the post-Soviet territory.The author’s opinion is that a typical feature of oligarchic regimes in the post-Soviet states has become a refusal to have an independent policy and a course aimed at the introduction of an external control. In this case, the sovereignty and national interests of a country are sacrificed for the interests of the transnational oligarchy. Local politicians and oligarchs act as its agents. Naturally the externally controlled countries (Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) have found themselves far behind the other post-Soviet states.According to the author, the most successful of the post-Soviet states have become the states with a well-developed and rigid administrative and bureaucratic vertical of authority, which was able to limit the role of the oligarchy and local criminal structures in politics. Acting in this way, the nation-oriented part of the government and business have managed to prevent the dictatorship of the transnational oligarchy, overcome the negative implications of transformational crisis and ensure internal political, social and economic strength within new state boundaries. This creates opportunities for accelerated modernization and construction of a more democratic state system.

Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2018;18(2):247-258
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Malysheva D.B.


The article is analyzing the current situation in Afghanistan; it reveals the challenges and risks that emanate from this conflict zone and affect the security sphere of the five post-Soviet states of Central Asia (CA) and their Asian neighbors. Attention is paid to the growth of drug trafficking and the terrorist threat from Afghanistan by the “Islamic state” (IS, a terrorist group banned in Russia). The diplomatic initiatives taken by Russia, China, and other states to achieve national reconciliation in Afghanistan are considered. Military-political and economic projects in Central Asia (“One Belt, One Way”, and “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”), which are alternatives to the Russia-initiated integration in the sphere of economy (Eurasian Economic Union - EAEU) and security (the Collective Security Treaty Organization - CSTO) are analyzed taking into account the rivalry within the China-India-Pakistan triangle. In connection with the recent changes in the Asian strategy of the United States, the peculiarities of India-Pakistan interaction with the post-Soviet states of Central Asia and with Afghanistan have been revealed. The chronological framework of the article is а period following the partial withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 of the American military contingent, brought to the beginning of 2018, when a new geopolitical reality began to form in the Central Asian region.

Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2018;18(2):259-272
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Bazavluk S.V.


Despite the fact that a lot of research has been devoted to the study of Eurasianism, both in Russia and abroad, the international scientific community seems to still lack a common understanding of both the term “Eurasianism” and its derivatives. And we can talk not only about the socio-political, cultural, philosophical and religious definition of these concepts, but even about the geographical. If the difference in the humanitarian aspects of this issue can be explained in terms of the difference between the social system, ideology, and political structure, then the divergence in the geographical understanding of the Eurasian space and its borders can cause surprise. At the same time, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Western scientists began to resort more and more geographically to the regionalization of the world political map, dividing the regions into increasingly smaller fractions right up to the redrawing of national borders, justifying in their writings the emergence of new political entities as a natural course of history, bloc approach of the Cold War period, but also the basic constants of geopolitical science about the confrontation of two global forces: sea and land. In terms of the same geopolitics, the land forces are represented by the “world island”, Heartland or Eurasia. However, according to the English dictionary Collins, the term “Eurasia” since 2006, the number of its uses in the English-language literature began to grow rapidly, breaking all records of use, since its inception, and occupying a place of honor among other 30,000 most common words. It seems that this interest is caused by the West's awareness of the fact that Russia was able to overcome the turbulence of the nineties and gradually began to restore its positions, primarily in the outward political arena. Thus, before our eyes there is a return to the topic of Eurasianism among international scholars, but already in new geopolitical realities. With the change in realities, the perception of the basic category of geopolitics-space also changed, which in turn led to a difference in the interpretation of the term “Eurasia” and its derivatives.

Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2018;18(2):273-283
pages 273-283 views


Beisebaev R.S.


The need to study the Kyrgyz-Kazakh, Kyrgyz-Uzbek, Kyrgyz-Tajik interstate relations caused by the fact that there is a need to identify the cooperation framework in fuel and energy field. It is clear that Central Asian states were interdependent, but each individually played a role in the development of fuel and energy sector of Kyrgyzstan. Republic in bilateral relations with the neighboring countries of the region determines ways to improve the development of the fuel and energy complex, taking into account the issues of sovereignty and national interests. Kyrgyzstan, located in the neighborhood with these republics, does not use this advantage, but finds alternative partners. The main purpose of the study determines the role of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan in the energy sector of Kyrgyzstan. The processes of globalization affect relations between countries activating them and giving more interdependence of the states. The author emphasizes the importance of bilateral integration relations in the fuel and energy sectors of Central Asian countries. The necessity to build a high-quality format of political agreements with neighboring countries to prevent bilateral issues and implementation of promising projects in the sector, which can improve not only the economic development of Kyrgyzstan, but the entire Central Asian region is discussed. The study used historical and inductive analysis methods.

Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2018;18(2):284-291
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Kazantsev A.A., Gusev L.Y.


The actual, still little explored topic of the reforms of the new president of the Republic of Uzbekistan Sh. Merzieev is considered in the paper. It is noted that the study of these reforms and the prospects for the development of the situation in Uzbekistan are extremely important from the point of view of the interests of all countries of the post-Soviet space, because Uzbekistan is strategically located and has the largest population of Central Asia. The migration processes that bind Russia and Uzbekistan and the existence of a common terrorist threat show our country's serious interest in maintaining stability in the neighboring state. The aim of the work is to provide an analysis of reforms in the country's foreign policy. Scientific works and expert opinions devoted to the situation, both in Uzbekistan and in the Central Asian region are used in the article. Among them there are the works of MGIMO staff (Sergeyev V.M., Sodikov S.D., Mehdiyev E.T.), Russian International Affairs Council (Alekseyenkova E.S.), Institute for Socio-Political Studies of RAS (Seleznev I.A.), Information Analytical Center of MSU (Vlasov A.V., Karavaev A.V.). In addition, press materials in Uzbek and Russian were used. In conclusion, it is pointed out that the President of Uzbekistan initiated a large-scale series of reforms, which can already be called a “thaw”. In foreign policy Tashkent managed to improve relations seriously with all its neighbors in the region, as well as with Russia and Western countries. The authors formulated three scenarios for the further development of the situation in the country.

Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2018;18(2):292-303
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Rustamova L.R.


In connection with the growing security threats related to migration flows from the troubled regions of the world and the need to diversify transport flows of hydrocarbon resources, the EU began to pay attention to the cooperation with the Central Asian countries. Within the framework of the EU Strategy for Central Asia, several priority areas were adopted, according to which it was planned to build relations with the post-Soviet republics most closely. This study aims to analyze the main projects in the field of humanitarian cooperation between the EU and the Central Asian countries and to establish to what extent such projects are competitive in comparison with the Russian ones, as the countries of the region belong to the area of Russian interests. To achieve this goal the author used general scientific methods and systematic approach. While analyzing the documents which give the theoretical explanation of the importance of the region for European partners and materials of foreign and Russian researchers devoted to the humanitarian problems of the region and the main results of the EU Strategy for Central Asia, the author comes to the conclusion that the projects of humanitarian cooperation of the EU with the countries of Central Asia do not take into account the national characteristics and priority needs of the former Soviet republics. However, many projects are quite competitive in comparison with the Russian ones and in order to stay as a strategic partner in the long-term future for the countries of the region Russia needs to take into account their best characteristics and achievements.

Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2018;18(2):304-314
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Kurylev K.P., Kurbanov R.M., Makenova A.B., Khotivrishvili A.A.


The system of international relations is in constant change, where new challenges, problems, trends are emerging. In this context, the global migration is no exception. The central question of this study is that labor migrants from Central Asia are changing their traditional directions, where Russia is replaced by other European countries. Such a trend can not be short-term for a number of reasons, both internal and external. Globalization, which neutralizes the natural borders of states, contributes to the gradual growth of world migration. Moreover, the leading countries of Europe with a high level of economic development have always attracted foreigners who were in search of work and a better life. Among other reasons of this problem is the rapid demographic development of Central Asia, the interest of European countries in cheaper labor, but quite qualified. In addition, the economic crisis in Russia, the complication of migration policy, the weakening of the currency, as well as the dependence of the budget of the Central Asian countries from remittances from abroad, it provokes great interest in changing traditional migratory direction. The objective of the research is to investigate the phenomenon of gradual increase in the number of migrants from Central Asian countries to Europe and analyze causes and consequences of this phenomenon in the context of the current international situation. Summarizing the results of the research, the authors make the important conclusion that the number of migrants from Central Asia in the countries of the European Union is gradually increasing. In the next decades this phenomenon will also be relevant because of the high birth rate and relatively young middle age of citizens in the countries of Central Asia, the EU’s need for cheap and at the same time qualified labor, a low level of the Central Asian economy and the economic crisis in Russia.

Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2018;18(2):315-327
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Galistcheva N.V.


The aim of this article is the analysis of the modern directions of the Pakistani external economic policy in 1990-2000s - its ties with the Central Asian countries. While selecting the research topics the author proceeded from the idea that the problem of the Pakistani cooperation with Central Asian countries has not been comprehensively studied for the last two decades. The research required to attract and summarize a large amount of statistical data that has been drawn from many sources including official-sites of Pakistan and Central Asian countries. The author also used Russian and Pakistani scientific journals and monographs. The article highlights economic cooperation between Pakistan and Central Asian countries: there are statistical data on the index of intensity of mutual Pakistani-Central Asian trade, some information both on investment cooperation between parties and on Pakistani “soft power” in the region. A comprehensive analysis of the Pakistani-Central Asian economic cooperation allows to make several conclusions. Despite some growth in the volume of mutual trade in recent years, its dynamics and nature remain below potential. An important obstacle to the expansion of cooperation in addition to the economic problems in Pakistan and the lack of the common border between it and Central Asia as well as the unstable situation in Afghanistan through which the trade is carried out, are the geopolitical aspirations of the parties. The geopolitical interests of the Central Asian states towards the US, the EU, Japan and Russia reduce the possibility of expanding cooperation between Pakistan and countries of the region. On the other hand the new Great Game unfolding in the region and the participation in it a number of developing states (first of all China, Turkey and Iran) each of which uses an impressive arsenal of funds to consolidate its intensions - from providing humanitarian aid to financing various infrastructure projects, significantly reduces Pakistan’s chances of expanding its presence in the region. The article presents statistical data characterizing the present state of the Pakistan - Central Asia mutual trade at the present time.

Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2018;18(2):328-341
pages 328-341 views


Ahmed M.A.


Energy dialogue between Russia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia became an issue of current importance in many respects, due to transformation of the whole system of international relations in the Middle East, caused by several military and political crises as well as the new political and military role assumed by Russia in Syrian crisis settlement. The energy dialogue between the two oil-producing countries is considered as one of the key mechanisms promoting crises settlement in the Middle East, regulating disputable issues in energy pricing and as adjusting infrastructure, social and environmental problems in the region. The author’s position is that international relations are not a “zero-sum game”. So, the political will of states to find the compromises contributes to the stabilization of the situation in the Middle East that, in its turn, can provide sustainable social and economic development of Russia and Saudi Arabia. The aim of this article is to identify the features of the energy dialogue between Russia and KSA and to determine the factors affecting it. The author uses methods of the comparative analysis and system approach. This paper analyses the conceptual basis of energy policy of the Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia, international treaties and the functioning of the “OPEC+” format, compare the approaches of Russia and KSA to the formation of the dialogue in the energy sector. The opinions of leading Arab and Russian experts in the energy field are taken into consideration. As a result, the following key features of the energy dialogue between Russia and the KSA were marked out. Firstly, in many aspects it is determined by regional political and military crises and fundamental difference in Russia’s and the KSA’s approaches to the final settlement of the Syrian conflict. Secondly, by introducing the concept of “the alliances overturn” the author draws attention to important changes in the way KSA forms partnership with the USA and Russia. In the context of conceptual changes in KSA’s approach to the strategic partnership with the USA and Russia. Thirdly, the author emphasizes the willingness of the parties to make mutual concessions in matters of principle, such as the conflict in Yemen and Syria. The fourth key feature of the dialogue between Russia and the KSA is using energy as a universal platform to find mutually beneficial solutions in ensuring regional economic security and military and political stability.

Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2018;18(2):342-355
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Safonkina E.A.


The research aims to analyze the Chinese BRICS presidency in 2017 from the standpoint of promoting adenga’s continuity, developing new initiatives and providing a balance of national and partner countries’ interests in the context of existing and new global challenges. To carry out the research the author applied historical and comparative analysis methods. The author comes to a conclusion that China was able to effectively organize its presidency’s agenda to promote its own initiatives while supplying partners’ demand hereby laying a basis for further cooperation development in the BRICS, first of all in the framework of the South African presidency in 2018. In the economic sphere a number of sectoral documents were approved to exchange experience between the participating countries, in particular the Framework on Strengthening the Economic and Technical Cooperation for BRICS Countries aimed at providing CNY500 million to boost practical cooperation. In the financial sphere, with an objective to promote the Chinese national currency at the international financial markets, China implemented steps aimed at developing cooperation in the monetary sphere that, obviously, in the interests of other BRICS member countries. Chinese national financial institutions broadened their engagement with the BRICS New Development Bank. China faces a wide range of social goals in line with the Sustainable Development Agenda. The Xiamen Declaration affirmed the BRICS members’ commitment to fully implement the Agenda 2030. Being interested in new technologies transfer China promoted an adoption of a long-term cooperation instrument in this sphere (BRICS Action Plan for Innovation Cooperation (2017-2020)). To expand its influence at the international scene China actively uses soft power mechanisms. Its BRICS presidency was not an exception. A wide number of events were organized to promote Chinese culture and language. For the first time the BRICS Sport games took place. In such a way the Chinese 2017 presidency reaffirmed the BRICS mission, adopted new decisions, in particular aimed at cooperation institutionalization, in the interest of China and partner countries.

Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2018;18(2):356-367
pages 356-367 views



Polishchuk A.I., Soboleva A.S., Karimi R.E.


The article touches upon the specifics of the development of Russian-Iranian cultural ties at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries. Over the past 25 years, these relations have significantly intensified mainly as a result of a purposeful and state-funded policy of the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which ensures the spread of Iranian-Islamic culture and the Persian language in the world, including in Russia. At the same time, Iran resists penetration of any cultural influence “alien to Islamic values”, which requires a carefully thought-out approach in promoting the achievements of Russian culture on its territory. Russia regards Iran as an influential regional force and a geopolitical ally for strengthening stability in the region and a multipolar world. Development of ties with Iran at this stage is a priority in the militarytechnical, scientific-educational, trade and economic spheres. Cultural cooperation with Iran at the state level is not given independent significance and the role of some favorable background is assigned. There is an underestimation of the role of the cultural factor in shaping the structure of Russia’s strategic interaction with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2018;18(2):368-386
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Moshkova T.D.


The article is devoted to the study of the large and actively developing community of Israel - the “Russian street” - and its influence on the relations between Israel and Russia. The author considers such aspects of the topic as: the differences of the “Great Aliyah” of the 1990’s from the first wave of repatriation of the 1970’s and the factors that formed the unique “Russian-Jewish” identity among the representatives of the “Russian street”, the political and economic potential of “Russian Israel”, the main areas of cooperation between the two states and the role of the “Russian” community in this cooperation. A specific feature of the work is the use of the hermeneutic approach which is expressed in the author’s desire to comprehend the unique identity of a specific cultural community and to identify a number of factors that have decisively influenced the formation of a unique identity of such a community in a specific historical period. The author also resorts to general scientific procedures and operations, such as analysis and synthesis, inductive and deductive methods. The scientific novelty of the research is the author’s attempt to give a forecast concerning the possibility of forming a pro-Russian economic lobby among Israeli businessmen in the future as well as a forecast concerning the return of our former compatriots to Russia with the goal of developing the domestic high-tech industry. The main conclusion of the study is the following: if politically the community does not have a decisive influence on the actions of the Israeli authorities, then economically, it unequivocally contributes to strengthening economic ties between Israel and Russia. Russia’s initiatives to develop various forms of economic, cultural and media cooperation can give impetus to the growth of the influence of the Russian-speaking community.
Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2018;18(2):387-399
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Prof. Rustam Burnashev was born in 1969 in Tashkent. In 1986-1991 studied at the Philosophy and Economics Department of Tashkent State University named after V. Lenin on the specialty “Philosophy”. In 1995-1997 he studied in the graduate school of the Institute of Philosophy and Law named after M. Muminov of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan; PhD. Teaching career began in 1991 as a teacher of philosophy and logic of the Department of Philosophy and Law of the Second Tashkent Medical Institute. Since 1998 was Senior Research Fellow, then the head of the Foreign Policy Analysis sector of the Institute of Strategic and Interregional Studies under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Since 2000 - Associate Professor of the Faculty of International Relations, Abylai Khan University of International Relations and World Languages. Since 2002 - Professor of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Kazakh-German University. From 2004 to 2010 Prof. Burnashev regularly worked at the University of California-Berkeley as an invited researcher. In his interview, Prof. Burnashev analyzes the state of Central Asian studies in Europe and the US, talks about the specifics of the development of Central Asia at the present stage, emphasizing the far-fetched and exaggerated nature of the threat emanating from radical Islamist groups for the Central Asian region.
Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2018;18(2):400-410
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CENTRAL ASIAN STUDIES IN UK Interview with Dr. SHIRIN AKINER, Senior Fellow of the Cambridge Central Asia Forum, University of Cambridge, and Research Associate, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; Member of Editorial Board of Vestnik RUDN. International Relations

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Dr. Shirin Akiner has long firsthand experience of Central Asia and has written and lectured widely on the region. In 2006 she was awarded the Sir Percy Sykes Memorial Medal by the Royal Society for Asian Affairs for her contribution to Asian studies. In 2008 awarded Honorary Fellowship of Anciens’ Association of NATO Defense College. In 2013, received the International Chingiz Aitmatov Award (for her “promotion as well as extensive contribution to the understanding of Central Asian countries and their cultures”). In 2010-2012, Special Advisor to UK Parliamentary Groups on Central Asian States. Has held research and teaching posts at the University of London, 1974-2008 (School of Oriental and African Studies, and University College); since 2008 - ongoing, Senior Fellow of the Cambridge Central Asia Forum, University of Cambridge, and Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She has also held visiting professorships at Oberlin University (USA), Uppsala University (Sweden), Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki (Finland), Kazakh National University (Almaty) and National University of Seoul (South Korea). From 1993-2015, she was a regular lecturer at NATO Defense College, Rome; also at Royal Defense College, London; has made oral and written submissions to UK House of Commons Select Committee on Defense, presentations on regional security to NATO Parliamentary Assembly and to the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council Security Forum. Dr Akiner has authored seven monographs and numerous scholarly articles on such topics as Islam, ethnicity, political change and security challenges in Central Asia. Her work has been translated into 10 languages (including French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Kazakh, Russian and Chinese etc.). In her interview, Dr. Akiner talks about Central Asian and Islamic Studies in Europe, the prospects of chaotization and radicalization of Central Asian Region and points out an influence of China on the regional situation.
Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2018;18(2):411-414
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Tsvyk G.I.


The article is devoted to the development of Russian-Chinese humanitarian cooperation within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The author analyzes main aspects of humanitarian cooperation between the SCO member states, due to the fact that cooperation in this field is very important within the SCO’s agenda. At the same time, the special significance of Russian-Chinese relations in this sphere is highlighted in connection with the fact that Russia and China were the first among SCO member states to declare humanitarian cooperation. Since that time both countries were actively developing bilateral cooperation in various spheres. The article examines various spheres of humanitarian relations within the SCO, namely education, culture, academic mobility, sports and tourism. Recently, the humanitarian component has become increasingly important in Russian-Chinese cooperation, which in the last two decades has begun to include not only traditional spheres of interaction such as culture and education, but also health, sports, mass media and tourism. In addition, after the establishment of strategic partnership between the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China, humanitarian cooperation, having received great state support, began to develop very fast. With the advent of a new international regional organization, which member-states are Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and since 2017, India and Pakistan, a new format of bilateral cooperation between Moscow and Beijing in the framework of the SCO has emerged.

Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2018;18(2):415-428
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REVIEW OF THE BOOK: China’s Initiatives: Responses to an Uncertain World. Chief Editor Su Ge. Beijing: World Affairs Press, 2017. 454 p

Grachikov E.N.



Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2018;18(2):429-438
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REVIEW OF THE BOOKS: Rashid A. The Resurgence of Central Asia. Islam or Nationalism? 2nd edition. NY: New York Review Books, 2017; Cooley A., Heathershaw J. Dictators Without Borders. Power and Money in Central Asia. New Heaven, L.: Yale University Press, 2017

Chikrizova O.S.



Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2018;18(2):439-443
pages 439-443 views

REVIEW OF THE BOOK: Tikhomirov A.V. (2017). Foreign Policy of the Republic of Belarus (1991-2015). Minsk: BSU

Kurylev K.P., Smolik N.G., Baum V.V.



Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2018;18(2):444-448
pages 444-448 views

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