The USA has no resources for Central Asia

The USA has no resources for Central Asia


By Vestnik Kavkaza


Today the summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia opens in Shanghai. According to experts, despite common interests, a new struggle for spheres of interest in Central Asia is beginning between Russia, China and the USA. Vladimir Yevseyev, the head of the Caucasus Department of the CIS Countries Institute, told Vestnik Kavkaza about his view on the activeness of American diplomacy.


-          The USA has intensified its activity in Central Asia. Their diplomats have visited almost all the countries of the region. Recently, US deputy Secretary of State William Burns visited Kazakhstan. What is the reason for this activeness?


-          I can see the activeness of the USA not only in Central Asia, but first of all in the Caucasus, which means that the United States is trying to weaken Russian influence in the post-Soviet space. Initially the main target was to weaken contacts between Russia and China, and certain steps were made. When they couldn’t achieve this, they focused on the territories of the post-Soviet space. At the same time, they are trying to make advances to Iran, which is also trying to prevent a rapprochement between Russia and China.


However, in reality the USA has no spare resources, and they are trying to make it look like they are still strong. The same is happening in the Asia-Pacific region. Statements by the head of Pentagon that “we are still strong, we are ready to build our military bases everywhere,” have no grounds.


What can the USA give Kazakhstan? Which state has the largest investments in Kazakhstan? China. Which state can really provide large projects in Kazakhstan? Not the USA. The point is in the imitation and creation of a false sense that they could provide the countries with something better than Russia does.


-          Soon the Eurasian Economic Union treaty will be signed. What can the USA do in this situation?


-          The USA has another goal – prevention of Eurasian integration. Sometimes the USA acts directly, but sometimes they act through providers of their interests. Speaking about Europe, these are Poland and Romania. Speaking about Central Asia, this is Turkey. The activeness of Turkey in Central Asia has grown; and the reason is not only the interests of Turkey, but also that the USA is trying to influence the region through Ankara.


The creation of a false picture will prevent not only the development of relations between Russia and the countries of Central Asia, but also the countries of Central Asia themselves, as it establishes false priorities.


Central Asia is not a priority for the USA. European states, prevention of rapprochement with Russia, and other states of the Asian-Pacific Region are priorities. I doubt that the USA is ready to invest in unstable Central Asia. But the USA will do its best at the political level to prevent any integration processes in post-Soviet space. The direction is clearly anti-Russian. However, speaking about Central Asia, I think it is more about imitation. We can discuss construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline. But where will the resources for the pipeline come from? China takes everything that Turkmenistan produces. I can’t see free resources for the construction. Azerbaijan’s desire to be a transit country is understandable, but I can’t see a source of resources for a Trans-Caspian gas pipeline in Azerbaijan. We speak about excessive political activeness. The same thing concerns new suggestions which are certain aspects of the Madrid Principles on Nagorno-Karabakh. This is an old song. Intensive political activity is aimed at imitating the strength of the United States for the international community. But the USA cannot boost its military presence in Europe and the Asian-Pacific region simultaneously.


But what is being offered Ukraine? They suggest guaranteeing that Ukraine will be paid $1 billion. It seems the USA has no significant resources to support Ukraine. They are trying to use the IMF or make the Europeans pay for their adventure in Ukraine.


- Russian experts discuss the refusal by Nursultan Nazarbayev to take part in the informal summit of the CSTO on May 8th in favor of a meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. Some say that Kazakhstan is reconsidering its foreign political priorities. What do you think the Kazakh president’s refusal to attend the summit has to do with?


- Our Russian expert community has started saying: “See? Nazarbayev skipped the informal council and met Burns instead.” But they forget that a week ago Nazarbayev visited Moscow on April 28-29. Simultaneously with that, an agreement on the common regional air defenses of Russia and Kazakhstan was ratified, something we lack with any other country except Belarus. Agreements were signed regarding raising issues around the future Eurasian Economic Union that had been complicating Russian-Kazakh agreements. In particular, the decision for a common Eurasian open sky, which could cause major harm to Kazakh airlines, was postponed. Fundamentally, there are no serious differences, and the fact that Nazarbayev meets Putin and Burns means that Central Asian leaders are merely trying to implement a multi-vector policy.


Although, after the Ukrainian crisis, after what has happened and will obviously continue happening in Afghanistan, the field for multi-vector moves is narrowing, it is a true-to-life process. With rising instability on the southern borders of the former Soviet Union, the field for such moves will continue to shrink.