Russia and China in Central Asia

NUPI Policy Brief

Over the last three years, Russia and China have increased their engagement in Central Asia in response to NATO’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. Moscow has deepened its security cooperation with the Central Asian states with a new strategic purpose– guarding against instability spilling over from northern Afghanistan– and has promoted the expansion of the Eurasian Economic Union. China also has dramatically accelerated its economic activities in the region by announcing the One Belt One Route (OBOR) initiative, an ambitious project to upgrade regional infrastructure and connect China to Europe and the Middle East. Although both Beijing and Moscow claim to be regional partners and not rivals, since the Ukraine crisis Russia has been forced to accept China’s terms of cooperation in order to signal that it has non-Western partners and opportunities.