Interesting article on the scramble by Central Asian states to cozy-up with Russia and China. Following that sucking sound of US troops leaving Afghanistan, the regional political-military equation is being disrupted, to say the least and Russian-Chinese military cooperation in Central Asia likely will intensify as a result of the U.S. withdrawal. It only makes sense that both the Central Asian states and China and Russia should re-evaluate their political-military-diplomatic positions. The prospect of another civil war in Afghanistan, particularly its spillover into neighboring countries, or outright victory by the Taliban is worrisome for both Beijing and Moscow. They have shared strategic interests. The Great Game returns. Personally, it's hard not to want to find similarities with our sad exit from Vietnam. Pictures of lines of people rushing for a seat on a helicopter is still vivid in my mind and for sure in the minds of those who were lucky enough to have been saved and deadly unlucky for those left behind. Accounts of those last days and hours are tragic. And now we are calling in the Marines to ensure the safe evacuation of our embassy staff before the Taliban knocks on the front door of the embassy with an RPG and a love note. Tragic.
Unnerved by Taliban Gains, Central Asia Boosts Ties With Russia and China
Paul Stronski Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021
The ongoing withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan is transforming diplomatic and security dynamics in Central Asia, creating opportunities for Russia and China to enhance their engagement with increasingly anxious governments in the region. The resurgence of the Taliban that began in the spring—and their takeover of large swaths of Afghanistan’s territory, including at least eight regional capitals so far—is unnerving senior officials in Central Asia.
Russia, meanwhile, is eager to take advantage of the U.S. withdrawal by shoring up its influence in Central Asia, enhancing its security footprint and preventing Washington from resuming military operations in any Central Asian state. China, too, is stepping up its diplomacy with Central Asia, increasing its bilateral security assistance with Kyrgyzstan and moving to enhance its influence and presence in Tajikistan, which shares a border with the sensitive Xinjiang region in northwestern China. The prospect of a Taliban victory or a civil war in Afghanistan, and its spillover into Central Asia, appears to be pushing Moscow, Beijing and Central Asian governments toward closer cooperation.