Asia and Eurasia
The Territory of the Former USSR: Lessons From the Past, Contours of the Future

The centre of Asia will not shift anywhere; the heart of Asia will continue to beat in unison with that of Russia. Over the years of the countries’ independence, the five have determined their true friends, Rashid Alimov writes.

The crisis in Ukraine has exposed many of the modern world’s problems and underscored the urgent need for dialogue, especially since this crisis is not the only one in our world. About a quarter of the world’s population, including the post-Soviet space, is to some extent involved in conflicts or is affected by their severe consequences.

In the context of a crisis in international relations, it is important to return to the ability to respect each other’s reasonable concerns, primarily in the field of security, its indivisibility and resolving controversial issues between the parties through mutually respectful dialogue and political consultation. Unfortunately, this is not happening yet. This was clearly demonstrated by the general political debates within the UN General Assembly. The world has heard who is in favour of resolving the crisis in Ukraine through political and diplomatic methods, and who continues to stubbornly believe that the path to peace lies through keeping the fire under the boiling cauldron of war.

Even the UN Security Council, which has primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, does not demonstrate the ability to negotiate. In these conditions, it is appropriate to recall the proposal of Russian President Vladimir Putin on convening a summit of the G5 to discuss global challenges and find ways to defuse the situation in the world. As you remember, it was made in January 2020, but has not lost its relevance today.

I dare to suggest that if the summit, supported by China and France, had taken place three years ago, the situation in the world today might have been different.

Recently, the UN Secretary General proposed a “Summit of the Future” in September 2024. In my opinion, the goals of this global event can be achieved if a Security Council summit takes place the day before, within the framework of which the issue of UN Security Council reform and other international institutions that were formed after the Second World War could also be discussed. Discussions have been going on for a quarter of a century about how multilateral institutions should respond to the political realities of the 21st century. There are many ideas and schemes for their renewal and reforms, but there is no solution, since there is no consensus among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Disagreements between groups of countries regarding issues related to ensuring global security also remain serious.

The world is becoming more and more aggressive, and the cost of conflicts is growing exponentially, as well as their impact on political stability, security and the economies of countries and regions. An example of this is the Afghan conflict, which has been smouldering for 45 years. In its hasty departure from Afghanistan, the United States left 8 billion dollars’ worth of weapons behind, which came under the control of the Taliban and international terrorist organisations entrenched in that country. The Afghan factor has and will continue to maintain tension among the countries of Central Asia and beyond. In this context, the problem of developing a unified approach to the current authorities of Afghanistan, a country with an unclear future, becomes important.

Eurasia and Asia
Central Asia: Competition or Cooperation?
Grigory Mikhailov
The regional elites, under the influence of stereotypes, as well as internal and external propaganda, had an impression that things were not going too well for Russia. Only in recent months, the assessments of Russia’s prospects began to change for the better, writes Grigory Mikhailov.

Over the past 30 years, the Central Asian states have established independent political and economic ties throughout the world. Promising integration processes launched at the initiative of the President of Uzbekistan in 2017 have radically changed the atmosphere in the region. The united voice of Central Asia is increasingly heard on international platforms. At the same time, being the geopolitical core of Eurasia and located between major world civilisational centres, Central Asia is an object of growing attraction for many powers and forces. This, among other things, confirms the growth of the 5+1 formats, which have no analogues in international relations.

The ongoing developments convince us that the goal of extra-regional players is to penetrate as deeply as possible into the Central Asian countries. Through the “Global Gateway”, “Greater Central Asia” or other structures, they draw them into the orbit of Western values and strategic influence in order to use the region as a platform for their games against Russia and China.

The countries of Central Asia, pursuing a multi-vector foreign policy, understand this very well and give priority to strengthening ties with Russia and China, which are also key trading partners for them.

Over the past two years, relations between the Central Asian countries and Russia have grown even closer and deeper, bilateral trade has improved significantly, and investment attractiveness has increased sharply. New opportunities for joint growth have opened up. Russia remains a key destination for labour migrants from Central Asian countries, the most attractive country for those seeking a higher education, and the absolute leader in assisting countries in the region in school education. For example, out of 362,000 foreign students obtaining higher education in in Russia the 2023/2024 academic year, 185,000 are students from Central Asian countries. Of this number 68,000 (about 40%) have their tuition covered by the Russian government. There are 25 branches of leading Russian universities operating in the countries of the region and there are plans to open at least ten more. In addition, in 2022, five cities in Tajikistan saw new schools open with teaching in Russian and a Russian curriculum. The construction of similar educational institutions is in full swing in Kyrgyzstan. Russia also plays a significant role in ensuring security in the region.

It is obvious that the centre of Asia will not shift anywhere; the heart of Asia will continue to beat in unison with that of Russia. Over the years of the countries’ independence, the five have determined their true friends. For example, it is quite acceptable to assert that the Russia-Central Asia-China connection is a completely tangible positive phenomenon of modern international life.
Here we are witnessing a relationship, which can be characterised as a strategic partnership or an alliance.

It is important not to miss the strategic initiative, to strengthen all corners of this stable triangle, including within the framework of the SCO, in whose official documents Central Asia is defined as the core of the organisation.

The world is at a dangerous point. The time has come when international organisations, especially the reformed UN, as well as influential regional partnerships and states, must do their utmost to encourage dialogue and promote the peaceful resolution of conflicts. This understanding is growing. The road to sustainable peace is never smooth or straight: it is unpredictable and tortuous, but the prospects are always bright. This prospect is multipolarity, towards which our world is rapidly and inevitably moving. The authors of the Valdai Club report spoke very cogently about how it might appear in the future, and I sincerely congratulate them.

Powerful groups of countries with global influence, such as the expanded BRICS and the SCO, have emerged within the contours of the political landscape of the future world. The geopolitical significance of these two partnerships is manifested in the fact that each of them presents to the international community its own view of the processes taking place in the world. At the same time, the views of BRICS and the SCO on the future of a multipolar world largely overlap, if not coincide. It is important that most countries in the world share these views and strive to become part of these partnerships, in which there is no dictate from one or a group of countries, where every voice matters and in which they know how to hear out and listen to each other. This is confirmed by the growing number of applications to participate in these partnerships, with their creative, future-oriented agenda.

This opens up new opportunities to create a just world and ensure balance in international relations. This means the successful collective resolution of global and regional problems, an expansion of common security, civilised trade and economic exchange, and a mutually respectful dialogue among cultures. To achieve these goals, as the authors of the Valdai Club report rightly noted, tireless work is required to maintain balance, smooth out contradictions and find solutions for each specific issue.

Maturity Certificate, or the Order That Never Was
Oleg Barabanov, Timofei Bordachev, Fyodor Lukyanov, Andrey Sushentsov, Ivan Timofeev
The “shape of the future” is perhaps the most sought-after concept in the world today. Everyone wants to see it, and international affairs experts are no exception. The more tangled the situation on the world stage, the more radical the changes; and the greater the impact of the factors that were once considered secondary (from technology to societal changes), the stronger the push to understand what lies beyond the bend.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.