Russia “cements” relations with Central Asian states

Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 10 / Trend V. Zhavoronkova/

Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent visits to the Central Asian states, including Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, demonstrates the country's willing to "cement" its relations with them, the U.S. expert on Central Asia Bruce Pannier believes.

"Russian President cements relations with the three Central Asian countries that have long ago conceded Russian interests in the region and in the case of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, badly need Russian support - financial, security and in other areas," Pannier, an expert of Radio Liberty, told Trend on Friday.

Putin made a number of visits to the Central Asian region including Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan during the last months. During the visits the sides came to a number of important agreements both for Russia and the region's countries.

Pannier believes that the first reason of Putin's visits to Central Asia is that he is willing to follow up on his idea of a Eurasian Union.

"The core of that union seems to be the CIS Customs Union - Kazakhstan is a member and Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan want to join," he said.

At the same time Russia's good ties with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan also send a message to Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, both of which have resisted Russian influence, certainly on their territories, expert said.

"I would expect the Russian government to do all possible to help Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and to a lesser extent Kazakhstan, as Astana certainly does not need financial help and is further removed from the Afghan border," he said.

Expert believes, one should not discount Putin's concerns about security from militants or the threat of narcotics trafficking from Afghanistan.

"These are genuine concerns and after most foreign forces pull out of Afghanistan in 2014 there is a good chance that the security situation in Central Asia will deteriorate," he added.

Central Asia is part of the CIS and also the doorstep to Russia, Pannier said.

It is in Moscow's interest to ensure the measures which are already being taken to counter such problems if and when they appear, he added.

"I think in Astana, Bishkek and Dushanbe the governments are pleased to have Russia as an ally to help with these problems," Pannier said.

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