Strait Talk

Is the EU Looking to Exploit Russia’s Waning Influence in Central Asia?

European Council President Charles Michel made a recent trip to a region long-known as Russia's backyard. And while in Kazakhstan, Michel called for closer co-operation between the EU and Central Asia. He made the visit as the region's own ties with Moscow, show signs of strain. With its vast energy reserves and strategic location between Europe and Asia, Michel called Kazakhstan crucial for the EU. Since gaining independence in the 1990s, Central Asian countries have held close political, economic and security ties with Moscow. But since its attack on Ukraine back in February, Russia's influence over Central Asia has shown signs of weakening. All countries refused to support Moscow at a UN vote that condemned its recent annexations of four Ukrainian regions. So is Russia losing its grip over Central Asia, and what alternatives does the EU have to offer? Bruce Pannier Political Analyst Aitolkyn Kourmanova Senior Editor of Central Asian Analytical Network

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