Russian President Putin is making his first foreign trip since the invasion of Ukraine. He visits Tajikistan and Turkmenistan and attends the summit of the countries bordering the Caspian Sea. “Everyone is looking at Russia. Russia’s soft power in Central Asian countries is under pressure. This is what Europe correspondent Geert Jan Han says.
The summit will be largely about fossil fuels in and around the Caspian region, but according to Han, it will be about Putin’s relationship with all countries in that region in a broader sense.
For example, the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan failed to recognize the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. The president of Kazakhstan even publicly explained the decision last week at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, describing the people’s republics as “quasi-states.” The state has never recognized the unilaterally declared republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. “So the leaders of these countries feel strong enough right now,” Han said.
Countries want to replace Russia as a gas supplier
Meanwhile, the reporter sees that Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan too, that is, countries in the classical sphere of influence of Moscow, are considering the possibility of replacing Russia as a gas supplier, for example, to Europe. So they want to do it outside Russia. They actually need approval from Russia in a certain way. So as you can see, everyone is checking Russia.
When it comes to hard power, Russia is very present in the former Soviet Union, there are military bases everywhere or there is a military presence, but that soft power, this cooperation, is under pressure in some countries.
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