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The hypothetical scenario of Moscow edging out the West from Kazakhstan would not necessarily mean that Russia could step into the resulting vacuum. It’s more likely that Moscow would simply be helping China to shore up its influence in Central Asia.
The rest of President Tokayev’s years in power are unlikely to be uneventful. The new Kazakh president has yet to establish his authority and to surround himself with trusted elites. Most importantly of all, he cannot rely on the loyalty of the security services.
The protests in Kazakhstan are social, anti-authoritarian, and anti-nepotism, but they are not anti-Russian. That may change as a result of the authorities receiving military assistance from Moscow, the former imperial capital.
The protests in Kazakhstan have shown that the current model of governance has angered millions of people who missed out when the resources pie was shared out. Yet that model is such an intrinsic part of the country’s economic and political structure that the leadership is unlikely to be able to change it, should President Tokayev wish to do so.
Even if there is cause for competition in Central Asia, both Moscow and Beijing see friendly bilateral relations as a priority, especially against the backdrop of their escalating confrontation with the West.
Tajikistan has no intention of getting into a direct confrontation with the Taliban. Rather, by taking a few more risks than its neighbors, the Tajik leadership is counting on boosting its popularity, both at home and abroad.
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