The world's leading powers will always be a factor in Kyrgyzstan due to the geopolitics that affect the region. As Central Asia is a region where a multitude of powerful nations: Russia, China, USA, the EU and Turkey, have political, economic and social interests.

Nevertheless, the likelihood of an external influences inflaming conflict in the immediate future is highly unlikely.

Russia & China

Russia and China the most influential external influences in the region. Currently they are not directly at odds and seem to have formed an unofficial understanding over actions in Central Asia. 

So far both nations have managed to achieve their ambitions without alienating the other. Russia to maintain its influence and control through Kyrgyzstan’s membership of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU)

While China keeps providing high levels of investment in infrastructure and economic development to help further its ambitions of developing its One Belt, One Road’ economic strategy, which plans to build the new ‘Silk Road’ through Central Asia. Despite the current acceptance of each country's ambitions, as time progresses China is becoming the more powerful influence in Central Asia as Russia’s economic power diminishes. This will change the balance of power and potentially lead to a more combative relationship. 


US & EU

Although both the US and the EU have an interest in Kyrgyzstan they are secondary influences. This is particularly true of the US which developed close ties with Kyrgyzstan during the Afghanistan campaign. 

However since US focus and resources have been transferred elsewhere, US influence has waned, particularly since the closing of the US air force base in Manas.

Nevertheless both the US and EU have provided large quantities of aid to Kyrgyzstan, the US gave $105 million in 2012 while the EU provided €55.2 million to Kyrgyzstan between 2007-2010. The investment covers security, health, governance and economic and social projects. Kyrgyzstan is appealing to the west due to it being the lone democratic state in the region. However Kyrgyzstan’s parliament debate over the “foreign agent” and anti-homosexual propaganda laws, a copy of Russia’s, makes the US and EU uncomfortable.

Overall US and EU influence in Kyrgyzstan is secondary to China and Russia.


Turkey

Turkey has attempted to influence Central Asia  in the past, mainly through the guise of Pan-Turkism, although Turkish ambitions in this area have waned with an increasingly nationalistic Turkey. This ambition could be revived in the future, however its early attempts after the disintegration of the Soviet Union failed to deliver long-term benefits.

Iran

Iran of late has tried to build relations within Central Asia, mainly to increase the trade of resources from Central Asia through Iran to the outside world. Iran in the past has tried to spread the Islamic revolution into Central Asia, which helped inflame tensions in neighbouring Tajikistan. However apart from destabilising Tajikistan it failed to deliver long-term benefits. 

Designed by Oliver McGough
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