Power & Energy in Central Asia

My good friend Jasmin Mujanovic, a fellow at the Emerging Democracies Institute, took the time to interview me on thoughts and prognostications on Central Asia, Western lobbying, and lines of disclosure:

This combination of carbon-based revenue, kleptocratic influence, post-Soviet civil rights collapse, and a distinct hypocrisy from Western actors – in addition to a continued lack of disclosure among certain parties – continues. And when it’s questioned, it can make for a fantastic story. ...

But Russia’s moment has passed. Due to its blinkered economic and energy policies, Russia has ceded the upper hand to China [in Central Asia], which has slowly begun turning Central Asia into resource outposts. (The West still maintains a nominal presence, but with the wind-down in Afghanistan comes a concurrent decrease in regional interest.) China is not only the largest trade partner in the region, but has managed to wrest Central Asian hydrocarbons from their former route to Russia. On the one hand, this was perhaps expected – China presents both a far larger market, and far larger energy demand. But Russia’s autarkic policies and revanchist efforts have convinced Central Asia that Moscow cannot be trusted to act in good faith – all the more as the recent sanctions have begun harming Central Asian economies – and is interested namely in retaining an imperialistic image. Central Asia is China’s to lose, and the region will only continue gravitating toward Beijing more and more in the foreseeable future.