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New centers of power in Asia need to unite to counteract the pressure of the West

photo: president.gov.by
17 October 2022
Yuri SolozobovYuri Solozobov

Yuri Solozobov

Candidate of Science, Physics and Mathematics, Regional Programs Director of CISS

CICA Summit success

In mid-October, Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, became the center of attraction in international politics. On October 13, the 6th Summit of the Conference of Interaction and Confidence-Building in Central Asia (CICA). On October 14, the Council of Heads of State of CIS held its session, and the Summit «Central Asia Russia» took place on the same day. Within the framework of these two representative forums Russian President Vladimir Putin had a series of bilateral meetings with heads of states and leaders of some international organizations. For that important purpose, many high-ranking guests especially coordinated the dates of their state visits to Kazakhstan with the CICA Summit. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of Turkey, sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, Emir of Qatar, Serdar Berdimuhamedov, the President of Turkmenistan, were among them. All this is hard evidence of the refocus of Russian foreign policy to the Asian vector as the highest priority and the most promising.

The observers note that twelve presidents of different countries simultaneously arrived to Astana during the days of the forums. First of all, they were the heads of CICA member-states (Azerbaijan, Iraq, Iran, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Palestine, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan). Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, also came to Astana in the capacity of CICA observer. The President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov participated in CIS and the CICA Summit for the first time (previously, this country avoided active international contacts). Vietnam was represented at the Vice-President level, Beijing at the level of the Deputy President of PRC. Overall, more than thirty foreign delegations arrived to Astana. What were the reasons for such surge of global interest to the meetings in the very center of Eurasia?

To answer this question, we need to remember the CIMA establishment story. After disintegration of the USSR, there was a dangerous vacuum in the security sphere on the vast stretches of Eurasian continent. Then, in October 1992, the first President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed to create CICA organization as an Asian OECD analogue, a new platform for negotiations, where the countries of the Asian part of out-continent could discuss the security issues on an equal footing and jointly search for solutions. This idea was way in advance of that time, and the first CICA Summit took place only 10 years after. During the preceding OECD Summit, which took place in 2010 in Astana, the leaders of Russia and Kazakhstan proposed a breakthrough concept of creating the common system of Eurasian security to combine both formats OECD and CICA. President Putin once again confirmed this thesis at the 6th CICA Summit: «Russia does everything it can to form the system of equal and integrated security». [1]

However, the leaders of Western Europe headed by the USA and Great Britain were then focused on drawing the dividing lines. Recent events in Ukraine are just the hot phase of this lengthy process of turning the collective West into enclosed economic, technological and military ecosystem. However, all the attempts of the global hegemon to build a unipolar world, where a few «advanced states» can make global decisions, failed. The global political system is demonstrating an all-time-high demand for alternative platforms, where the states can effectively meet without reference to the West and independently decide the terms of their development and collective interaction. The high political fallout of the Samarkand SCO Summit confirmed this trend, and the obvious success of the Astana CICA Summit once again proved the correctness of the strategic path chosen by Russia and its allies.

New global architecture

The steady rise of Asia as the global economic leader became the material factor of CICA success. «The forecast about the 21st century being the century of Asia is now a reality. 21 out of 30 biggest cities of the world are situated in Asia. It is expected that out of the total estimated growth of consumption by the middle class up to USD 30 trn by 2030 the Western economies will account for only USD 1 trn. However, the future of Asia depends on our collective commitment to strengthen the cross-cultural dialogue, the diverse traditions and mindsets», Kassym-Jomart Tokayev emphasized in his speech. [2] According to him, transformation of CICA into a full-fledged international organization is among the foreign policy priorities of Kazakhstan. This transformation should favorably affect the security in Asia and provide for economic interconnection of the member countries.

Regional experts pay their attention to energizing of the economic aspects in CICA activities, which are primarily focused on security aspects. In particular, the session of the Business Council and CICA Business Forum took place in Astana within the international conference «Astana Financial Days».

The main event of the 6th CICA Summit was the conceptual speech of the RF Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader is sure that the Asian part of our continent is now becoming the center of the global politics. It will be here where the heart of the global economy will be beating, it will be here where the new rules of the game will be formed. Putin emphasized that «Asia, where the new centers of power are on the rise, plays an important role in the transition to the new multipolar world order». However, the contemplated transition from unipolar hegemony of the West to the new world order will not be smooth and placid, we will all have to go through the acute phase of struggle and turbulence. «There is a real threat of hunger and far-reaching shocks against the background of global energy and food prices», Vladimir Putin warned. [3] This strategic instability is a manifestation of the aggravated friction between the West as the former «global master» and new global leadership aspirants in Asian countries.

Russia and its allies are to break down the previous globalization globalization project focused on the monopolistic leadership of the Western countries over all the rest. «Russia is for reviewing the principles of the global financial system functioning. The current system allowed for «the Golden Billion» to live on the planet at the expense of others», Vladimir Putin openly declared from the rostrum of the CICA Summit. This new anti-colonial discourse of Moscow is more and more supported by the rising countries of the global semi-periphery, for which the previous world order prepared the humiliating role of the second-class entities. Now time has come for the new centers of power to unite to counteract the growing pressure of the West both sanctions-related and political pressure. Regionalization is coming to replace globalization, and this is the key pillar of the new global architecture, with open international associations like SCO and CICA as its key elements.

The crisis of the existing world order has put many countries in front of a harsh dilemma: either to throw themselves on the mercy of the «global hegemon» and to become obedient vassals of the West, or to turn into a battle-field or into economic ruins for many years. But there is a third way to win, the non-standard one: creating new strategic alliances and unexpected global coalitions capable of becoming an alternative to the Western global order. In the situation of the current war of the West against all the non-Western world, just opportunistic cooperation and organizing summits is not enough anymore. Russia and its potential allies should be pro-active and collaborate to systemically organize regional alliances. One of the spectacular examples of such strategic alliance is the comprehensive rapprochement of Russia and Turkey quickly running rampant, about the need of which the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies has been talking about. [4]

Strategic alliance with Turkey

Our countries, Russia and Turkey, have been successfully cooperating in many spheres economy, energy and geo-politics since long ago. After Russia commenced the special military operation, the Turkish authorities among not so many influential countries refused to join the unilateral anti-Russian sanctions regime. This was driven by Ankaras interest in Moscow as a strategic partner in many important projects from mutual trade and energy supplies to building the nuclear power plant and regional security. The statistics show that starting from February 24, Turkish export to Russia surged dramatically. For example, it doubled this August vs. August 2021: it grew from USD 451 mln up to USD 949 mln. Turkey significantly ramped up petroleum products production and import over the first seven months of 2022 in the context of the growing import of cheap Russian oil. Only with these oil deals Ankara successfully earned circa USD 2.5 bn during the above-mentioned period.

All these facts confirm that the strategic alliance of Russia and Turkey brings tangible benefits to both countries: Moscow gets an opportunity to overcome the sanctions-related restrictions, and Turkey to successfully cope with its internal economic difficulties. However, the cooperation between the RF and Turkey is not limited to just economic issues. As it is known, Ankara assists Moscow along many delicate international tracks starting from «The Grain from Ukraine» initiative and prisoner exchange to peace negotiations. No wonder the meeting of the two Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the sidelines of the CICA Summit was in the focus of global media. The sensational proposal of the Russian leader about creating a gas hub in Turkey created and additional suspense. Previously, Vladimir Putin informed that Russia could shift the gas transit volumes lost because of the accident at the Nord Streams to the Black Sea region. Let us remind here, that currently Turkey is receiving Russian gas through the Turkish Stream and the Blue Stream. In the opinion of Russian President, this route is economically feasible and provides for higher level of gas transportation security.

Indeed, the 930-km sub-sea section of the Turkish Stream runs through the economic zones of both countries exclusively Russian zone (230 km) and Turkish zone (700 km), which mitigates the external risks. Initially, the Turkish Stream included the construction of four strings of the gas pipeline with the total throughput capacity of circa 63 bcm of natural gas. As of today, only two strings are in operation with total 15.75 bcm throughput: one is for Turkish domestic market, the other one for the countries of Southern Europe. The Russian side has the entire on-shore infrastructure ready for expansion of the pipeline, and the experts believe that additional strings may be laid within half-a-year. President Erdoan was enthusiastic about the gas hub proposal and assigned the Turkish Ministry of Energy to immediately start working on this project. [5]

Let us note that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has always invested a lot of efforts into making his country the energy «junction-board» for exporting resources to the EU. Since long ago, Turkey has been aspiring to turn into a major gas hub trying to diversify the sources to the maximum extent. For example, recently Ankara and Baku agreed to double the TANAP throughput capacity. It means there will be no problems with filling the Turkish hub: it will be gas from Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia, as well as liquified gas, and in future Turkey intends to produce gas itself from its offshore fields. The gas hub in Turkey may be not just the venue of supplies, but also the platform to define the price for gas coming from Russia and from the Caspian Region. The analysts believe that realization of the potential of Turkey as the gas hub will provide access to new markets and new transit opportunities for Russia, and for Ankara it will be a positive development from the standpoint of beneficial geo-political position. In essence, implementation of the gas hub project will be a new linchpin for the strategic alliance of Russia and Turkey.

The outcomes of the Summit «Central Asia Russia»

International meetings in Astana finished on October 14 by the Summit «Central Asia Russia». In the course of the Summit, the Presidents of the RF, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan discussed the outlook for further cooperation in the six-sided format. Interaction in such important spheres as politics and security, trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation was the key topic. Let us remind here that in mid-October in Central Asia the Forum «China and Central Asia» took place in the course of the visit of Xi Jinping, the PRC President. Meetings of Foreign Affairs ministers in the «C5+1» format (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the USA) are also taking place on a regular basis, and the last one happened just recently on the sidelines of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly. It proves that all the leading global players are watching very carefully the situation in Central Asia, and that the international competition is growing stronger. Central Asia today is an important crossroads of new transit North-South and East-West corridors, as well as the potential point of military and political pressure by the West on Russia and China.

For a long time, Moscow was looking at Central Asia in a condescending manner dating back to the Soviet times perceiving these countries as periphery, but not as the foreign policy mainstream. Until recently, this vector had the least resources from the standpoint of ideology, HR, diplomacy and organization. It is enough just to look at the age of Russian Ambassadors in the region (they are all practically pensioners), and it becomes clear why they are so inactive contrary to the activity of the heads of the Western diplomatic missions. Today the foreign political situation is different, and Russian priorities in the East are changing drastically, Central Asia is becoming the focal point of Russian diplomacy, where Russia sees great potential for ramping-up the cooperation. In his speech, the President of Russia emphasized all the importance of the economic cooperation of Russia and Central Asia: «Over the recent five years, the sales turnover with the Central Asian countries doubled. Russia is the leading investor into the economy of Central Asia». Vladimir Putin referred to organization of new Trans-Eurasian corridors as one of the key priorities. Russia intends to spend USD 1.5 bn until 2030 to develop the North-South International Transport Corridor, which is becoming a new Road of Life in the context of Western blockade.

The RF President was supported by his colleague from Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who proclaimed the need for economic cooperation in the region: «We need to focus our efforts on free  movement of commodities, optimization of import phase-out, creation of «green» corridors, industrial cooperation projects. We are ready to launch the Central Asian Cooperation Exchange». Serdar Berdimuhamedov, the President of Turkmenistan, proposed to optimize the mode of six-sided consultations, otherwise it will be impossible to implement new infrastructure projects forming the corridors of development for the region. Sadyr Japarov, the President of Kyrgyzstan, proposed to elaborate the common food security strategy. In the context of extremely volatile global food prices, Central Asia is critically dependent on stable supplies from traditional grain suppliers the RF and Kazakhstan. In the experts opinion, re-focusing the export of Russian grain from traditional Soviet routes by sea to the Northern African countries to inland supplies to Central Asia and South-West Asia will help to resolve two problems simultaneously: to avoid sectoral and logistic sanctions of the West and to control stability in the center of Eurasia.

The bulk of accumulated and unresolved problems between Russia and Central Asian countries made itself felt in the tone of speeches by two other Presidents of Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. The President of Kazakhstan emphasized the importance of information security and proposed to counteract all the attempts to stirrup rebellion and sow dissent. «Definitely, a lot depends on political responsibility of our politicians. Unfortunately, in some countries we can hear fighting words against heads of the state, unjustified accusations. And this, of course, poisons the atmosphere of our cooperation», Kassym-Jomart Tokayev concluded. [6] Previously, we already had to comment that the main reason for some misunderstanding between Russia and Kazakhstan was the disruption in political and expert communications. It means, that in Kazakhstan they stopped understanding what Russia wants, and in the RF they see Kazakhstan exclusively through the lens of Russian media. Today the mutual agenda is defined by the most «yellow» news and unbridled propaganda, which eventually leads to the increased risk of spontaneous crisis between Russia and Kazakhstan, which can quickly grow into something more serious due to media hysteria. [7]

The President of Tajikistan as the «aksakal» (the senior) among the Central Asian leaders expressed an «offbeat», but consolidated opinion. Emomali Rahmon personally addressed Vladimir Putin asking to stop looking at the Central Asian countries as at former Soviet republics. «Each country has its own problems, issues and traditions», the President of Tajikistan emphasized reminding about the need for mutual respect and equal partnership. He drew the attention to the proximity of Central Asia and Russia saying that this factor will stay with us. Such an unexpected stunt, though with some Oriental hue, reflects the intrinsic changes that took place in Central Asia over the post-Soviet years in the sphere of politics, economy, and mainly demography. The geo-economic and demographic center of the post-Soviet area is progressively shifting to the East. The countries featuring an explosive increase in population Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan are becoming more meaningful for Russia than depopulating Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova and Georgia. [8] However, the re-focus from Ukraine, which for many Soviet and post-Soviet years has been «the apple of the Kremlins eye» to Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan elicits fear in some Russian elites, who are far from these countries in terms of their mentality and ethnical origin. The results of the Summit «Central Asia Russia» prove that Moscow has approached the point, when the declared «turn to the East» should be implemented into practice.

Turn to the East

The results of the Astana summits allow for an important conclusion: the new Russian «leave-taking» to Eurasia came around. It should be accepted that the «divorce» with Europe was initiated by the European side and is of a final conclusive character. Now Russias position is in Asia, because our interests are there, like our allies. It is enough just to compare the members of the informal CIS summit coordinated with Vladimir Putins anniversary and the recent Summit «Central Asia Russia» to understand this dramatic geo-political shift. The post-Soviet transit is over we do not have the post-Soviet countries with «shared fate», we have several groups of states belonging to different worlds. Their fates have separated once and for all some of them gravitate to the West and confirm their Euro-Atlantic choice «with iron and blood», others remain stick with Russia and Eurasia.

The new national security strategy of the US directly refers to the need to deter Russia on the Western vector. It means that the former republics of the USSR and currently the buffer countries of «Great Limitrophe» bordering with the European Union will become the combat zone for a long time. Deterioration of their infrastructure, active migration and depopulation these processes will be taking place there impeding normal constructive effort.

On the contrary, Central Asia is becoming our reliable rear zone, Russia will be extremely needing the markets of these countries for many decades ahead. Today the Russian Federation should decisively make its bet on the rapidly developing countries Azerbaijan and Central Asia, which are becoming the center of attraction for foreign investors due to their demographic and economic growth. The Caspian Region being the hotbed of transportation and energy routes should become the key connecting hub of this new geo-economic structure.

There is a separate question about the strategic allies of Russia outside the FSU area. The recent events prove that the Western countries and mainly the European Union, which used to be the priority of Russian foreign policy and economy, are now lost for us for a long time. However, the short-sighted calculation of some experts for quick replacement of the Western partners with China and India turned out to be false. These pragmatic countries are not ready to sacrifice their fine-tuned trade relations with the West for the sake of painful refocusing to cooperation with Russia. Our main strategic partner for the forthcoming decades is Turkey, which together with Russia and its allies in Central Asia is capable of creating an alternative center of power in Eurasia. Today Turkey helps Russia to overcome the trade blockade leveraging its position of a transit center and energy «junction-board» and getting significant benefits from such joint activities. Tomorrow the strategic alliance of Russia and Turkey may drastically change the entire Eurasian geo-economy. The earlier Russian politicians recognize that the turn to the East is inevitable, the more forces, lives and resources we will be able to save in the West to achieve success in the East.

1. Putin: Russia is making all it can to form the system of equal and integral security. Sputnik Azerbaijan, 13.10.2022. https://az.sputniknews.ru/20221013/putin-rf-delaet-vse-dlya-formirovaniya-sistemy-ravnoy-i-nedelimoy-bezopasnosti-447392577.html

2. Tokayev: Today the forecast about the 21st century being the century of Asia is becoming a reality. Informburo.kz, 13.10.2022. https://informburo.kz/novosti/tokaev-prognoz-o-tom-cto-xxi-stoletie-budet-vekom-azii-segodnya-stal-realnostyu

3. The summit of the Conference of Interaction and Confidence-Building in Central Asia (CICA). Official website of the President of Russia, 13.10.2022. http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/69587

4. Russian-Turkish strategic alliance is the future of Eurasia. Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies. https://caspian.institute/product/ciss/rossijsko-tyurkskij-soyuz-kak-budushchee-evrazii-37966.shtml

5. Erdoan: the most convenient location for the new gas hub to Europe is Trakiya. Anadolu Agency, 14.10.2022. https://www.aa.com.tr/ru/%d0%bf%d0%be%d0%bb%d0%b8%d1%82%d0%b8%d0%ba%d0%b0/%d1%8d%d1%80%d0%b4%d0%be%d0%b3%d0%b0%d0%bd-%d0%bd%d0%b0%d0%b8%d0%b1%d0%be%d0%bb%d0%b5%d0%b5-%d1%83%d0%b4%d0%be%d0%b1%d0%bd%d0%be%d0%b5-%d0%bc%d0%b5%d1%81%d1%82%d0%be-%d0%b4%d0%bb%d1%8f-%d0%bd%d0%be%d0%b2%d0%be%d0%b3%d0%be-%d0%b3%d0%b0%d0%b7%d0%be%d0%b2%d0%be%d0%b3%d0%be-%d1%85%d0%b0%d0%b1%d0%b0-%d0%b2-%d0%b5%d0%b2%d1%80%d0%be%d0%bf%d1%83-%d1%82%d1%80%d0%b0%d0%ba%d1%8c%d1%8f/2711535

6. The President of Kazakhstan: we can hear fighting words against heads of the state. Inform-KZ, 14.10.2022. https://www.inform.kz/ru/prezident-rk-v-nekotoryh-stranah-sluchayutsya-provokacionnye-vyskazyvaniya-v-adres-glav-gosudarstv_a3990682

7. Marat Shibutov, Yuri Solozobov, Natalia Malyarchuk. Russian-Kazakhstan relations at the current stage. Part 3. IA Regnum, 10.12.2018. https://regnum.ru/news/polit/2534699.html

8. Yuri Solozobov, Marat Shibutov. The demography puts an end to Ukraine, rising Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. IA Regnum, 20.05.2019. https://regnum.ru/news/2631132.html

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Publications

New centers of power in Asia need to unite to counteract the pressure of the West

photo: president.gov.by
17 2022
Yuri Solozobov

Yuri Solozobov

Candidate of Science, Physics and Mathematics, Regional Programs Director of CISS

CICA Summit success

In mid-October, Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, became the center of attraction in international politics. On October 13, the 6th Summit of the Conference of Interaction and Confidence-Building in Central Asia (CICA). On October 14, the Council of Heads of State of CIS held its session, and the Summit «Central Asia Russia» took place on the same day. Within the framework of these two representative forums Russian President Vladimir Putin had a series of bilateral meetings with heads of states and leaders of some international organizations. For that important purpose, many high-ranking guests especially coordinated the dates of their state visits to Kazakhstan with the CICA Summit. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of Turkey, sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, Emir of Qatar, Serdar Berdimuhamedov, the President of Turkmenistan, were among them. All this is hard evidence of the refocus of Russian foreign policy to the Asian vector as the highest priority and the most promising.

The observers note that twelve presidents of different countries simultaneously arrived to Astana during the days of the forums. First of all, they were the heads of CICA member-states (Azerbaijan, Iraq, Iran, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Palestine, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan). Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, also came to Astana in the capacity of CICA observer. The President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov participated in CIS and the CICA Summit for the first time (previously, this country avoided active international contacts). Vietnam was represented at the Vice-President level, Beijing at the level of the Deputy President of PRC. Overall, more than thirty foreign delegations arrived to Astana. What were the reasons for such surge of global interest to the meetings in the very center of Eurasia?

To answer this question, we need to remember the CIMA establishment story. After disintegration of the USSR, there was a dangerous vacuum in the security sphere on the vast stretches of Eurasian continent. Then, in October 1992, the first President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed to create CICA organization as an Asian OECD analogue, a new platform for negotiations, where the countries of the Asian part of out-continent could discuss the security issues on an equal footing and jointly search for solutions. This idea was way in advance of that time, and the first CICA Summit took place only 10 years after. During the preceding OECD Summit, which took place in 2010 in Astana, the leaders of Russia and Kazakhstan proposed a breakthrough concept of creating the common system of Eurasian security to combine both formats OECD and CICA. President Putin once again confirmed this thesis at the 6th CICA Summit: «Russia does everything it can to form the system of equal and integrated security». [1]

However, the leaders of Western Europe headed by the USA and Great Britain were then focused on drawing the dividing lines. Recent events in Ukraine are just the hot phase of this lengthy process of turning the collective West into enclosed economic, technological and military ecosystem. However, all the attempts of the global hegemon to build a unipolar world, where a few «advanced states» can make global decisions, failed. The global political system is demonstrating an all-time-high demand for alternative platforms, where the states can effectively meet without reference to the West and independently decide the terms of their development and collective interaction. The high political fallout of the Samarkand SCO Summit confirmed this trend, and the obvious success of the Astana CICA Summit once again proved the correctness of the strategic path chosen by Russia and its allies.

New global architecture

The steady rise of Asia as the global economic leader became the material factor of CICA success. «The forecast about the 21st century being the century of Asia is now a reality. 21 out of 30 biggest cities of the world are situated in Asia. It is expected that out of the total estimated growth of consumption by the middle class up to USD 30 trn by 2030 the Western economies will account for only USD 1 trn. However, the future of Asia depends on our collective commitment to strengthen the cross-cultural dialogue, the diverse traditions and mindsets», Kassym-Jomart Tokayev emphasized in his speech. [2] According to him, transformation of CICA into a full-fledged international organization is among the foreign policy priorities of Kazakhstan. This transformation should favorably affect the security in Asia and provide for economic interconnection of the member countries.

Regional experts pay their attention to energizing of the economic aspects in CICA activities, which are primarily focused on security aspects. In particular, the session of the Business Council and CICA Business Forum took place in Astana within the international conference «Astana Financial Days».

The main event of the 6th CICA Summit was the conceptual speech of the RF Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader is sure that the Asian part of our continent is now becoming the center of the global politics. It will be here where the heart of the global economy will be beating, it will be here where the new rules of the game will be formed. Putin emphasized that «Asia, where the new centers of power are on the rise, plays an important role in the transition to the new multipolar world order». However, the contemplated transition from unipolar hegemony of the West to the new world order will not be smooth and placid, we will all have to go through the acute phase of struggle and turbulence. «There is a real threat of hunger and far-reaching shocks against the background of global energy and food prices», Vladimir Putin warned. [3] This strategic instability is a manifestation of the aggravated friction between the West as the former «global master» and new global leadership aspirants in Asian countries.

Russia and its allies are to break down the previous globalization globalization project focused on the monopolistic leadership of the Western countries over all the rest. «Russia is for reviewing the principles of the global financial system functioning. The current system allowed for «the Golden Billion» to live on the planet at the expense of others», Vladimir Putin openly declared from the rostrum of the CICA Summit. This new anti-colonial discourse of Moscow is more and more supported by the rising countries of the global semi-periphery, for which the previous world order prepared the humiliating role of the second-class entities. Now time has come for the new centers of power to unite to counteract the growing pressure of the West both sanctions-related and political pressure. Regionalization is coming to replace globalization, and this is the key pillar of the new global architecture, with open international associations like SCO and CICA as its key elements.

The crisis of the existing world order has put many countries in front of a harsh dilemma: either to throw themselves on the mercy of the «global hegemon» and to become obedient vassals of the West, or to turn into a battle-field or into economic ruins for many years. But there is a third way to win, the non-standard one: creating new strategic alliances and unexpected global coalitions capable of becoming an alternative to the Western global order. In the situation of the current war of the West against all the non-Western world, just opportunistic cooperation and organizing summits is not enough anymore. Russia and its potential allies should be pro-active and collaborate to systemically organize regional alliances. One of the spectacular examples of such strategic alliance is the comprehensive rapprochement of Russia and Turkey quickly running rampant, about the need of which the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies has been talking about. [4]

Strategic alliance with Turkey

Our countries, Russia and Turkey, have been successfully cooperating in many spheres economy, energy and geo-politics since long ago. After Russia commenced the special military operation, the Turkish authorities among not so many influential countries refused to join the unilateral anti-Russian sanctions regime. This was driven by Ankaras interest in Moscow as a strategic partner in many important projects from mutual trade and energy supplies to building the nuclear power plant and regional security. The statistics show that starting from February 24, Turkish export to Russia surged dramatically. For example, it doubled this August vs. August 2021: it grew from USD 451 mln up to USD 949 mln. Turkey significantly ramped up petroleum products production and import over the first seven months of 2022 in the context of the growing import of cheap Russian oil. Only with these oil deals Ankara successfully earned circa USD 2.5 bn during the above-mentioned period.

All these facts confirm that the strategic alliance of Russia and Turkey brings tangible benefits to both countries: Moscow gets an opportunity to overcome the sanctions-related restrictions, and Turkey to successfully cope with its internal economic difficulties. However, the cooperation between the RF and Turkey is not limited to just economic issues. As it is known, Ankara assists Moscow along many delicate international tracks starting from «The Grain from Ukraine» initiative and prisoner exchange to peace negotiations. No wonder the meeting of the two Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the sidelines of the CICA Summit was in the focus of global media. The sensational proposal of the Russian leader about creating a gas hub in Turkey created and additional suspense. Previously, Vladimir Putin informed that Russia could shift the gas transit volumes lost because of the accident at the Nord Streams to the Black Sea region. Let us remind here, that currently Turkey is receiving Russian gas through the Turkish Stream and the Blue Stream. In the opinion of Russian President, this route is economically feasible and provides for higher level of gas transportation security.

Indeed, the 930-km sub-sea section of the Turkish Stream runs through the economic zones of both countries exclusively Russian zone (230 km) and Turkish zone (700 km), which mitigates the external risks. Initially, the Turkish Stream included the construction of four strings of the gas pipeline with the total throughput capacity of circa 63 bcm of natural gas. As of today, only two strings are in operation with total 15.75 bcm throughput: one is for Turkish domestic market, the other one for the countries of Southern Europe. The Russian side has the entire on-shore infrastructure ready for expansion of the pipeline, and the experts believe that additional strings may be laid within half-a-year. President Erdoan was enthusiastic about the gas hub proposal and assigned the Turkish Ministry of Energy to immediately start working on this project. [5]

Let us note that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has always invested a lot of efforts into making his country the energy «junction-board» for exporting resources to the EU. Since long ago, Turkey has been aspiring to turn into a major gas hub trying to diversify the sources to the maximum extent. For example, recently Ankara and Baku agreed to double the TANAP throughput capacity. It means there will be no problems with filling the Turkish hub: it will be gas from Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia, as well as liquified gas, and in future Turkey intends to produce gas itself from its offshore fields. The gas hub in Turkey may be not just the venue of supplies, but also the platform to define the price for gas coming from Russia and from the Caspian Region. The analysts believe that realization of the potential of Turkey as the gas hub will provide access to new markets and new transit opportunities for Russia, and for Ankara it will be a positive development from the standpoint of beneficial geo-political position. In essence, implementation of the gas hub project will be a new linchpin for the strategic alliance of Russia and Turkey.

The outcomes of the Summit «Central Asia Russia»

International meetings in Astana finished on October 14 by the Summit «Central Asia Russia». In the course of the Summit, the Presidents of the RF, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan discussed the outlook for further cooperation in the six-sided format. Interaction in such important spheres as politics and security, trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation was the key topic. Let us remind here that in mid-October in Central Asia the Forum «China and Central Asia» took place in the course of the visit of Xi Jinping, the PRC President. Meetings of Foreign Affairs ministers in the «C5+1» format (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the USA) are also taking place on a regular basis, and the last one happened just recently on the sidelines of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly. It proves that all the leading global players are watching very carefully the situation in Central Asia, and that the international competition is growing stronger. Central Asia today is an important crossroads of new transit North-South and East-West corridors, as well as the potential point of military and political pressure by the West on Russia and China.

For a long time, Moscow was looking at Central Asia in a condescending manner dating back to the Soviet times perceiving these countries as periphery, but not as the foreign policy mainstream. Until recently, this vector had the least resources from the standpoint of ideology, HR, diplomacy and organization. It is enough just to look at the age of Russian Ambassadors in the region (they are all practically pensioners), and it becomes clear why they are so inactive contrary to the activity of the heads of the Western diplomatic missions. Today the foreign political situation is different, and Russian priorities in the East are changing drastically, Central Asia is becoming the focal point of Russian diplomacy, where Russia sees great potential for ramping-up the cooperation. In his speech, the President of Russia emphasized all the importance of the economic cooperation of Russia and Central Asia: «Over the recent five years, the sales turnover with the Central Asian countries doubled. Russia is the leading investor into the economy of Central Asia». Vladimir Putin referred to organization of new Trans-Eurasian corridors as one of the key priorities. Russia intends to spend USD 1.5 bn until 2030 to develop the North-South International Transport Corridor, which is becoming a new Road of Life in the context of Western blockade.

The RF President was supported by his colleague from Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who proclaimed the need for economic cooperation in the region: «We need to focus our efforts on free  movement of commodities, optimization of import phase-out, creation of «green» corridors, industrial cooperation projects. We are ready to launch the Central Asian Cooperation Exchange». Serdar Berdimuhamedov, the President of Turkmenistan, proposed to optimize the mode of six-sided consultations, otherwise it will be impossible to implement new infrastructure projects forming the corridors of development for the region. Sadyr Japarov, the President of Kyrgyzstan, proposed to elaborate the common food security strategy. In the context of extremely volatile global food prices, Central Asia is critically dependent on stable supplies from traditional grain suppliers the RF and Kazakhstan. In the experts opinion, re-focusing the export of Russian grain from traditional Soviet routes by sea to the Northern African countries to inland supplies to Central Asia and South-West Asia will help to resolve two problems simultaneously: to avoid sectoral and logistic sanctions of the West and to control stability in the center of Eurasia.

The bulk of accumulated and unresolved problems between Russia and Central Asian countries made itself felt in the tone of speeches by two other Presidents of Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. The President of Kazakhstan emphasized the importance of information security and proposed to counteract all the attempts to stirrup rebellion and sow dissent. «Definitely, a lot depends on political responsibility of our politicians. Unfortunately, in some countries we can hear fighting words against heads of the state, unjustified accusations. And this, of course, poisons the atmosphere of our cooperation», Kassym-Jomart Tokayev concluded. [6] Previously, we already had to comment that the main reason for some misunderstanding between Russia and Kazakhstan was the disruption in political and expert communications. It means, that in Kazakhstan they stopped understanding what Russia wants, and in the RF they see Kazakhstan exclusively through the lens of Russian media. Today the mutual agenda is defined by the most «yellow» news and unbridled propaganda, which eventually leads to the increased risk of spontaneous crisis between Russia and Kazakhstan, which can quickly grow into something more serious due to media hysteria. [7]

The President of Tajikistan as the «aksakal» (the senior) among the Central Asian leaders expressed an «offbeat», but consolidated opinion. Emomali Rahmon personally addressed Vladimir Putin asking to stop looking at the Central Asian countries as at former Soviet republics. «Each country has its own problems, issues and traditions», the President of Tajikistan emphasized reminding about the need for mutual respect and equal partnership. He drew the attention to the proximity of Central Asia and Russia saying that this factor will stay with us. Such an unexpected stunt, though with some Oriental hue, reflects the intrinsic changes that took place in Central Asia over the post-Soviet years in the sphere of politics, economy, and mainly demography. The geo-economic and demographic center of the post-Soviet area is progressively shifting to the East. The countries featuring an explosive increase in population Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan are becoming more meaningful for Russia than depopulating Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova and Georgia. [8] However, the re-focus from Ukraine, which for many Soviet and post-Soviet years has been «the apple of the Kremlins eye» to Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan elicits fear in some Russian elites, who are far from these countries in terms of their mentality and ethnical origin. The results of the Summit «Central Asia Russia» prove that Moscow has approached the point, when the declared «turn to the East» should be implemented into practice.

Turn to the East

The results of the Astana summits allow for an important conclusion: the new Russian «leave-taking» to Eurasia came around. It should be accepted that the «divorce» with Europe was initiated by the European side and is of a final conclusive character. Now Russias position is in Asia, because our interests are there, like our allies. It is enough just to compare the members of the informal CIS summit coordinated with Vladimir Putins anniversary and the recent Summit «Central Asia Russia» to understand this dramatic geo-political shift. The post-Soviet transit is over we do not have the post-Soviet countries with «shared fate», we have several groups of states belonging to different worlds. Their fates have separated once and for all some of them gravitate to the West and confirm their Euro-Atlantic choice «with iron and blood», others remain stick with Russia and Eurasia.

The new national security strategy of the US directly refers to the need to deter Russia on the Western vector. It means that the former republics of the USSR and currently the buffer countries of «Great Limitrophe» bordering with the European Union will become the combat zone for a long time. Deterioration of their infrastructure, active migration and depopulation these processes will be taking place there impeding normal constructive effort.

On the contrary, Central Asia is becoming our reliable rear zone, Russia will be extremely needing the markets of these countries for many decades ahead. Today the Russian Federation should decisively make its bet on the rapidly developing countries Azerbaijan and Central Asia, which are becoming the center of attraction for foreign investors due to their demographic and economic growth. The Caspian Region being the hotbed of transportation and energy routes should become the key connecting hub of this new geo-economic structure.

There is a separate question about the strategic allies of Russia outside the FSU area. The recent events prove that the Western countries and mainly the European Union, which used to be the priority of Russian foreign policy and economy, are now lost for us for a long time. However, the short-sighted calculation of some experts for quick replacement of the Western partners with China and India turned out to be false. These pragmatic countries are not ready to sacrifice their fine-tuned trade relations with the West for the sake of painful refocusing to cooperation with Russia. Our main strategic partner for the forthcoming decades is Turkey, which together with Russia and its allies in Central Asia is capable of creating an alternative center of power in Eurasia. Today Turkey helps Russia to overcome the trade blockade leveraging its position of a transit center and energy «junction-board» and getting significant benefits from such joint activities. Tomorrow the strategic alliance of Russia and Turkey may drastically change the entire Eurasian geo-economy. The earlier Russian politicians recognize that the turn to the East is inevitable, the more forces, lives and resources we will be able to save in the West to achieve success in the East.

1. Putin: Russia is making all it can to form the system of equal and integral security. Sputnik Azerbaijan, 13.10.2022. https://az.sputniknews.ru/20221013/putin-rf-delaet-vse-dlya-formirovaniya-sistemy-ravnoy-i-nedelimoy-bezopasnosti-447392577.html

2. Tokayev: Today the forecast about the 21st century being the century of Asia is becoming a reality. Informburo.kz, 13.10.2022. https://informburo.kz/novosti/tokaev-prognoz-o-tom-cto-xxi-stoletie-budet-vekom-azii-segodnya-stal-realnostyu

3. The summit of the Conference of Interaction and Confidence-Building in Central Asia (CICA). Official website of the President of Russia, 13.10.2022. http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/69587

4. Russian-Turkish strategic alliance is the future of Eurasia. Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies. https://caspian.institute/product/ciss/rossijsko-tyurkskij-soyuz-kak-budushchee-evrazii-37966.shtml

5. Erdoan: the most convenient location for the new gas hub to Europe is Trakiya. Anadolu Agency, 14.10.2022. https://www.aa.com.tr/ru/%d0%bf%d0%be%d0%bb%d0%b8%d1%82%d0%b8%d0%ba%d0%b0/%d1%8d%d1%80%d0%b4%d0%be%d0%b3%d0%b0%d0%bd-%d0%bd%d0%b0%d0%b8%d0%b1%d0%be%d0%bb%d0%b5%d0%b5-%d1%83%d0%b4%d0%be%d0%b1%d0%bd%d0%be%d0%b5-%d0%bc%d0%b5%d1%81%d1%82%d0%be-%d0%b4%d0%bb%d1%8f-%d0%bd%d0%be%d0%b2%d0%be%d0%b3%d0%be-%d0%b3%d0%b0%d0%b7%d0%be%d0%b2%d0%be%d0%b3%d0%be-%d1%85%d0%b0%d0%b1%d0%b0-%d0%b2-%d0%b5%d0%b2%d1%80%d0%be%d0%bf%d1%83-%d1%82%d1%80%d0%b0%d0%ba%d1%8c%d1%8f/2711535

6. The President of Kazakhstan: we can hear fighting words against heads of the state. Inform-KZ, 14.10.2022. https://www.inform.kz/ru/prezident-rk-v-nekotoryh-stranah-sluchayutsya-provokacionnye-vyskazyvaniya-v-adres-glav-gosudarstv_a3990682

7. Marat Shibutov, Yuri Solozobov, Natalia Malyarchuk. Russian-Kazakhstan relations at the current stage. Part 3. IA Regnum, 10.12.2018. https://regnum.ru/news/polit/2534699.html

8. Yuri Solozobov, Marat Shibutov. The demography puts an end to Ukraine, rising Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. IA Regnum, 20.05.2019. https://regnum.ru/news/2631132.html