Friday, July 15, 2005

The Russia-China Axis

The bulk of Russia's foreign policy specialists interpret the rallying of Central Asian states around what they call an emergent Russian-Chinese strategic axis as a clear sign of the regional leaders' bitter disillusionment with America. Since the waves of the "color revolutions" began sweeping the post-Soviet lands in the end of 2003, the Central Asian autocratic rulers grew increasingly suspicious of Washington's political designs and, naturally, became wary of the U.S. military presence in their territories.

Some Russian political pundits view the Andijan events as a crucial turning point in the changing of the region's geopolitical equation -- both in terms of the regional countries' strategic orientation and of their domestic policies. According to several policy papers penned recently by Russia's conservative political thinkers, following the political upheavals in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan, as well as the violent riots in Uzbekistan, the Central Asian ruling clans appeared to have changed their perspective on a U.S. presence in Central Asia. Now the United States has likely come to be regarded as a "destabilizing factor" rather than a necessary precondition for maintaining peace and security in the region.

"The irritation, if not the outright fear, caused by the perceived American policy of regime change in post-Soviet Eurasia is taking on the form of an "institutionalized protest," as one commentary put it. In this context, all the recent Kremlin summitry -- the meeting between President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Hu Jintao, Uzbek president Islam Karimov's visit to Moscow, and the SCO gathering in Astana -- has seemingly indicated that a group of regional countries is engaged in setting up an "institutionalized counterweight to American hegemony and expansionism in Central Asia."

Igor Torbakov, in EDM

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