Use of Cyrillic and Russian language give Russia an advantage in Central Asia
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Sun Aug 12 13:44:47 UTC 2007
Russia and the thrust on Asian policySaturday, August 11, 2007
Ali KÜLEBİIt is obvious that the assertive period started with Putinhas fully made the Russian Federation that was formerly exhaustedenter a new phase. Have successfully put its foreign policy togetherwith energy as an instrument, Putin has taken successful steps on hisAsian policy. Although Turkey, not the Russian Federation, could havebeen the initiator of an international organization such as theShanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to be a center of politicalpower in Asia, it was Putin who established such an organizationsuccessfully. It should also be mentioned that the possibility ofusing the organization against the U.S. in Asia would make the SCOmore important, which in turn could change the balances especially inAsia in the course of time.
While talking about Russian policy on Asia, it would be wrong toskip that the Russian influence especially in Central Asia is based onethnic and cultural elements and the centuries of Russianrelationships and experience with the nations of the region. Thereason is that the Russians are able to utilize the fact that therulers of Central Asian Republics are their former bureaucrats andthey make use of their former relations with the several communistparties and staff with Marxist ideology. In fact it cannot be deniedthat the young and inexperienced republics in Asia have acceptedRussia as their guide. Furthermore, the use of the Cyrillic alphabetand the Russian language as the second language provide Russia with acultural advantage to establish an area of political influence, whichwill last for years. Although Turkey should have evaluated this factfrom different strategic and tactical perspectives, the lack ofpoliticians with the capability and vision that can make attempts !
forour own advantage makes us not set our potential advantages intoaction for many years more.
China and Russia have become friends
Although the U.S. occupation targeting the Taliban in Afghanistanpleased China and Russia that were already having trouble with radicalfundamentalist' activities in Central Asia, the ongoing ambitious U.S.activities awakened both China and Russia, and, they have become closeallies at the SCO with regard to common interests and concerns. TheU.S. presence in Central Asia started with the invasion of Afghanistanand U.S. efforts to change regimes in various Central Asian countriesdeepened this Russian- Chinese friendship. While Russia expanded itsinfluence outside the region's borders with the desire to become aglobal power, the other powerful giant of Asia, China has taken giantsteps in its economy.
Russian chess moves
In this context we see that reins in the region are controlled byRussia that has elicited China's support and we see that successfulRussian moves against the U.S. have alternately come.
Russian diplomacy, which provided conciliation by soft and back-doorinterventions for the situation in Kyrgyzstan where the U.S. triedchanges in staff and regime in countries of the region, has shown thesame skill in Uzbekistan, and, it has been effective in diminishingU.S. control over the country. Feeling it was beset by the U.S. inCentral Asia, Russia has taken a swipe at the U.S. in the region withthe support of China, and, Russia beat the U.S. at chess by taking thequeen. With the support of China and other SCO members Russia hasrecently followed a policy that offers a fair and just alternative tothe world against Bush's unilateral and aggressive policy. We see thatthis policy has started to prevent the U.S. from making changes invarious countries. This success of Russia with the leadership of Putinis an incontestable development.
Meanwhile the best example that the US has been negativelyinfluenced by the Russian policy is the last situation in theUS-Iranian relations. The US, which already invaded two neighbors ofIran and which, due to its plans on energy dominance and the Israelipressure, doubtlessly seemed to intervene in Iran however, has for nowgot on Iran's back against Russia that backed by the SCO. In thiscontext, it can be said that one of the political aims of Russia is toprevent Iran to fall into the hands of the US.
Russia's other moves in Asia
The most important element of Russia's Asian diplomacy is itspartnership with China. This partnership was strengthened with thesigning of the Russia - China Friendship and Cooperation Treaty onJuly 18, 2001 and this partnership was put into operation in moreconcrete terms under the framework of the SCO. Although China couldhave been the biggest rival of Russia for its Asian policy, thecooperation between these two giant regional powers that stand outagainst the more powerful rival the U.S., has created a new politicalarena for Russia where it felt surrounded by the U.S.
Recent U.S. efforts for developing relations with India, animportant economic power in the future, have been noticed by Russiathat has already had cozy relations with India and this situation hasmade Russia look for counter moves against the U.S.
In this respect one of the third world countries of the Cold Warperiod, India, which significantly moved close to Russia as a resultof its anti-American policies, keeps its traditional policy onpurchase of arms from Russia rather than the U.S. despite instantchange in policies of the U.S. that has become more tolerant towardIndia, especially on the nuclear issue. And there is no doubt thatRussia will certainly exploit this situation to the bitter end. Russiamay keep using India as its important chessman in Asia for a few moredecades. At this point it is important to emphasize the Russian viewthat is revealed in the saying, "Strengthening Indian defense meansstrengthening our own defense." And Putin's position and hisdetermination that India cannot be left alone against the U.S. in itsAsian politics should be evaluated within this context. Furthermore,SU-30 military aircraft, T-90S main battle tanks and the co-developedBrahMos supersonic cruise missiles that are sophistica!
ted weapons interms of its technological level and a nuclear submarine and anaircraft carrier that Russia does not want to give to every countrymust be evaluated from this perspective. Despite all Americanattempts, it should be borne in mind that India still buys 80 percentof its weapons from Russia.
Russia may play its weapon card for other Asian countries like italready does in its relations with India. It may sell its cheap armsand technologies to the countries it needs to. However, it should betaken into consideration that the most important weapon in Russia'spossession will be energy for energy-poor countries and politicalsupport for countries that look for allies against the U.S.
* Ali Külebi is the acting president of Ankara-based TUSAM (NationalSecurity Strategies Research Center) He can be reached atakulebi at tusam.net
http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=80412(c) 2005 Dogan Daily News Inc. www.turkishdailynews.com.tr
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