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A new sense of purpose in Central Asia as leaders seek better relations between their countries and with the rest of the world
For more than three decades after the collapse of the USSR the five Central Asia Republics continued to live largely in the shadow of Moscow.  Neighbouring China made headway, particularly in the economic sphere, largely with Moscow’s acquiescence, and there were a few moments when the west appeared to be making a mark on the region too, especially after the 9/11 attacks, when the US was allowed facilities to help with its invasion of Afghanistan. But this moment did not last long. On everything else that mattered, and for most of the time, Moscow continued to call the shots. The last five years have seen a seismic change in the region. A new generation of leaders are seeking better relations with the rest of the world: connectivity has become a buzzword, and there is a genuine effort to engage with the EU and the US, in most if not all the capitals. Ukraine, and the implications of the Russian invasion on future relations with all the post Soviet states, has focused minds, particularly in Tashkent and Astana.
patrickn97 Tue, 02/07/2023 - 17:32
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Season's Greetings

Season's Greetings

The editorial team, associates and contributors at commonspace.eu extend their best wishes for the festive season to all our readers and subscribers around the world. Happy holidays!
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Analysis
Analysis: Mohammed bin Zayed meets Putin in Moscow as Gulf states ponder the new world order

Analysis: Mohammed bin Zayed meets Putin in Moscow as Gulf states ponder the new world order

The president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), met in Moscow on Tuesday (11 October) with president Valdimir Putin of Russia. Putin warmly greeted his UAE guest at the Kostantinovsky Palace. The visit comes as Gulf states ponder about the new world order, Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the world order that had emerged at the end of the Cold War had clearly run out of steam. Russia and the West, instead of partners in the international system through membership of the G8, cooperation in space, and extensive arms control agreements, became first rivals, and, since February this year, enemies. China, whose rise over the last four decades as an economic power was first admired, has subsequently become a “systematic rival”. As it verges on superpower status it has become more assertive and less predictable. The US and its allies are seriously worried.  For the countries of the Gulf this new world order is uncharted waters. During the Cold War the Gulf was first a British lake, and later an American one. The American shield protected the Gulf states against intruders. When Iraq invaded Kuwait and occupied it in 1990, the US and its allies led the international community in a fightback, and Saddam Hussein was driven back across the border with a bloody nose. When he tried to rear his head again, the West finished him off. Then there was Iran. A huge American presence, with other allies in the wings, saw off Iranian ambitions in the region. It seemed that US-GCC relations were set in stone. Yet as the world reverted back to a multipolar state - the parameters of which are as yet undefined - it was only the naïve who thought that the GCC states will simply slide back to their old role of doing the USA's bidding in return for protection. Things in the Gulf have changed dramatically in the last six decades, and in the last decade in particular, in political terms the region is unrecognisable. In Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Doha and elsewhere the national interest has been re-defined. 
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Editorial
Editorial: A dark day in the history of Europe

Editorial: A dark day in the history of Europe

Friday, 30 September 2022 will for a long time be remembered as a sad and dark day for Europe. This afternoon, at 15:00 (12:00 GMT) in the St George Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace president Vladimir Putin will hold a signing ceremony annexing four more regions of Ukraine into the Russian Federation. The events in Europe in the 1930 are repeating themselves with an eerie familiarity: a big country invades a smaller neighbouring country, organises a sham referendum in parts or all of that country, after which it claims the moral authority to annex that territory or country.  In an act of cynicism late on Thursday, the Russian president signed two decrees recognising Zaporizhzhia and Kherson as independent territories. Their so called independence will last for only a few hours, before they are absorbed into Russia. The documents, shared on Russian state media, say the independence of the two regions is being recognised in accordance with international law and "enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations". However, UN Secretary General António Guterres has said any annexation of a country's territory based on the use of force violates the UN Charter and international law. Europeans thought that those times were over, and that the lessons had been learnt. Apparently not. Russia's invasion of Ukraine last February set the stage for what will take place in the Kremlin today. After votes in Luhansk and Donetsk in the east of Ukraine, and in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south, Russia will annexe them, in defiance of the wish of the Ukrainian people and their legitimate government, and of most of the international community. It has already acted in this way once, when in 2014, in similar circumstances it occupiued and annexed Crimea. Today's events are being hailed as a victiory by the Kremlin. A stage has already been set up in Moscow's Red Square, with billboards proclaiming the four regions as part of Russia and a concert planned for the evening in celebration. Some Russians may decide to follow the misguided steps of their leaders, but for the rest of Europe today is a sad and dark day.
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Editorial
Editorial: Lukashenko's trip to Abkhazia is another act in Putin's nefarious plan

Editorial: Lukashenko's trip to Abkhazia is another act in Putin's nefarious plan

The president of Belarus, Alexandre Lukashenko, made a surprise appearance in Abkhazia on Wednesday (28 September), in a move that many see as being part of the Kremlin’s present strategy to further distabilise Eurasia to help achieve the ultimate aim, which is complete Russian hegemony on the post-Soviet Space. For sure, Lukashenko did not go to Sukhumi to have a last dip in the Black Sea before winter sets in. This was a calculated political move, typical of Lukashenko. So why did he go, and why now? Lukashenko has long been a tool of the Kremlin, not only when it comes to affairs in his own Belarus, but more broadly on the international stage. Yet he has also tried to cultivate the image of being independent-minded, not the sort to take orders from Vladimir Putin, but rather one that is able to influence the Kremlin and its policies. This visit proves that in fact he is simply a stooge.
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Commentary
Commentary: Ukraine crisis helps Europe re-discover the meaning of the word “solidarity”

Commentary: Ukraine crisis helps Europe re-discover the meaning of the word “solidarity”

Since the start of the Russian invasion, the EU and its member states have given Ukraine billions of euros of budgetary assistance, have welcomed more than 3.7 million refugees, and have extended unprecedented levels of military assistance. Europe has re-discovered the meaning of the word solidarity, even if not all of the solidarity is altruistic but involves also a measure of self-preservation in the face of Putin's Russia naked aggressiveness and expansionist ambitions. Solidarity with Ukraine and Ukrainians is also ultimately in the interest of every European Union country and citizen. But this does not in any way lessen the significance of Europe’s support for Ukraine. Can this solidarity be sustained for the months, and probably years ahead, as Ukraine struggles to defeat Russia, and hopefully afterwards, victorious, start the difficult process of reconstruction? The decision to give Ukraine EU candidate status was in this regard significant, and indicates that the EU sees Ukraine as a long term commitment. For sure, as the winter cold starts biting and Putin plays politics with Russian gas supplies, there will be those who will question the value of Europe’s solidarity with Ukraine.  It is important they remain marginalised. For this, European leaders, decision makers and opinion shapers, need to communicate constantly to European citizens the righteousness of the decision to help Ukraine to stand up to Russia, and to help the Ukrainian people in their hour of need.