Two years into the full-scale Russian invasion in Ukraine, Central Asia finds itself under slightly less pressure to take sides. It seems that both Russia and the West have finally…
Dr. Aijan Sharshenova
Dr. Aijan Sharshenova is a Bishkek-based political analyst and the Executive Director at Crossroads Central Asia think tank. She holds two Masters in the EU and Central Asian Studies and in International Studies, and a PhD in Politics from the University of Leeds. Aijan’s research interests include foreign policy and soft power, as well as democracy promotion and autocracy diffusion. Her regional expertise covers Central Asia, the EU, and Russia. Aijan authored a book on the EU democracy promotion in Central Asia and co-edited a recent book on navigating positionality in research. In addition to her academic career, Aijan has worked on promoting sustainable development goals in the international development area, including within the UN system in the Middle East.
- Russia’s war in Ukraine has put the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in a complicated geopolitical position. Whilst they might commiserate with the fate of Ukraine, they still have to align with or, at least, avoid an open confrontation with Moscow. In addition, the war has rekindled domestic debates on the future of the Russian language, on national self-identification, and the shared past with Russia in some of the CIS countries.
- The war in Ukraine has further complicated China’s already tense relations with the West. At the same time, mainland China’s potential aggression towards Taiwan has come under the spotlight too, prompting further militarisation and increased military spending in a variety of countries in East and Southeast Asia. Domestically, Chinese public opinion seems to align with the Russian discourses of denazification of Ukraine. However, there is a growing number of people in China who sympathise with Ukraine.
- India is committed to the principles of multilateral cooperation and multipolarity based on sovereignty of independent states and rules-based order. India tries to uphold neutrality on the matters of the war, but does not share widespread Western narratives. Instead, India believes in Russia’s legitimate security interests in the region against the background of its long-standing opposition to NATO’s expansion prospects. In addition, India has benefitted from a significant increase in trade with Russia, which mostly includes petroleum products.
- South Africa is committed to multilateralism too. The current debates in the South African domain often portray the war in Ukraine as a proxy war, where Russia is seen to be protecting its legitimate security interests. However, South Africa also prefers to stay at least formally non-aligned even though such a position is complicated by the country’s recent actions and declarations. As a participant of the International Criminal Court (ICC), South Africa has the obligation to execute the arrest warrants issued by the ICC with regards to Russian President Putin. At the same time, South Africa participated in the joint maritime military exercise with China and Russia in February 2023, and the country’s minister of defence paid a visit to Moscow to participate in an international security conference.
- Brazil, as the geographically most removed BRICS country from Russia, has continued with its regular non-alignment foreign policy. However, Brazil also seems to question the current unipolar political system led by the USA.
- All BRICS countries, with the exception of Russia, have at least formally called for peaceful resolution of the conflict.
The Russian invasion has wreaked havoc upon Ukraine and caused considerable disturbances to both global and regional politics. Debates on the future of multilateralism, multipolarity, the relevance of international organisations,…Article by Dr. Aijan Sharshenova
Since February 2022, the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine has rippled across the foreign policies of many countries. Central Asian countries have had to quickly adjust their foreign…Article by Dr. Aijan Sharshenova