Russian President Vladimir Putin finished his working visit to Central Asia that coincided with the 25th anniversary of establishing bilateral ties with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Vladimir Putin may reportedly pay another visit to Bishkek in April or May when Kyrgyzstan, which is currently presiding over the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), is due to host the organization’s summit.
Alexander Konkov, a Russian political scientist, commented on the Asian tour. From his perspective, “It is Putin’s first foreign trip this year. In this regard, the destination – the region vital to Russia’s interests – is very symbolic. Both Central Asia and the entire world always attach importance to such gestures.
Russia pays particular attention to cooperation with Kazakhstan, the country’s strategic ally in the EAEU, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and other blocs. Putin’s visit to Tajikistan plays an equally important role for interactions with Central Asian countries, as well as confronting the Southern threat.
Actually, Kyrgyzstan may represent the most difficult regional power facing continuous turbulence. Today it also has a complicated domestic agenda related to the upcoming elections and outgoing President Almazbek Atambayev.
Citizens of the republics must realize that their life is a focal point for Russia’s society and government, thus, making the efforts to demonstrate it important. The steps to exercise control over the initiatives which tend to emerge in case of stronger cooperation in some economic sectors or in the humanitarian sphere, must also be made.
Some issues were also on the agenda during the recent visit of Moldovan President Igor Dodon to Moscow. They were also addressed in Tajikistan at an earlier stage. We must bear in mind that many former Soviet republics have maintained very close ties with Russia amid labor migration. Many republics are heavily dependent on the income their migrant workers receive in Russia.
The overall political context must also receive careful attention as some of the states – Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan at least – are members of the EAEU. Moreover, Eurasian integration must be tracked. However, there is much speculation about a possible expansion of the EAEU, Tajikistan’s membership bid, with the country now considering accession.
On the other hand, all the three are Muslim states, which are influenced by Middle East processes. In particular, Tajikistan is faced with its top-level officials joining the ranks of terrorists in Syria and Iraq. This issue tops the agenda given Russia’s role in the Middle East anti-terror campaign, its engagement in Syrian settlement and its efforts to curb the return of foreign fighters, for example, in Central Asia”.