Thursday, March 31, 2016

Russia, Hybrid War, and Central Asia

Corresponding to the Greater Heartland, there are four generalized zones of connectivity, and each has them has their own geo-economic role in the large framework. The former Soviet Republics of Central Asia most directly connect to Russia and China, and they also provide a geopolitical bridge between them. Together these countries form the invaluable nucleus of the Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership, and their stability is of foremost concern to both Great Power partners. Expanding the multipolar concept of integration even further, China announced an ambitious trans-Central Asian railroad in late November to link it to Iran, thus catapulting the region's significance to unprecedented heights.

Any disruption within this space carries with it the potential to quickly spread throughout the whole region, especially if such events originate in the identity-fragile Fergana Valley, thereby necessitating a multilateral approach to the area's security. The Russian-led CSTO incorporates Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, while the SCO that's traditionally been a joint condominium between Russia and China includes these three plus Uzbekistan.

The weak link that's left out of both matrices is constitutionally neutral Turkmenistan, and while it's geographically insulated from the cross-border chaos that could contaminate the entire Fergana, it's very vulnerable to a conventional terrorist offensive from Afghanistan that could otherwise be mitigated by its multilateral involvement in one of the two regional security frameworks. This wouldn't matter so much if it weren't for Turkmenistan's absolutely pivotal role in multipolar transnational connective energy projects, chiefly in being China's most strategic energy partner  and its largest gas supplier.

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