Central Asia is rich with fossils, logistics hubs, authoritarian political regimes, and unresolved regional disputes. Neighboring states and global powers, namely the Russian Federation, China, and the US, have a keen interest in the region. Central Asian states see themselves as a node or a bridge connecting Europe and Asia. Interestingly, some of the actual transportation bridges were built with the assistance of Ukrainian companies.
Trade and economic cooperation between Ukraine and Central Asia has recently declined. The reasons for this dismal state is caused by the Russian blockade of transport connections between Ukraine and Central Asia and the clearly pro-European foreign policy of Ukraine, which goes against the CIS projects of integration. Staff issues withing the Ukrainian diplomatic missions abroad, which have remained unresolved until recently, indicate the lack of a clear vision of Ukraine’s policy in Central Asia. Yet, is it a problem indeed and should Ukraine be active in Central Asia regarding the state of the affairs in this region?
Central Asia does not present a monolithic subject in international relations and can be considered as an “imagined community” of five different states with intraregional disputes and some common interests. Policy of the acting president of Uzbekistan creates favorable conditions for the gradual relieving of intraregional relations and gives some hope for tighter cooperation between the Central Asian states. In the spring of 2018, representatives of the Central Asian states even managed to organize a joint meeting, the first of its kind in the past decade. However, in regards to the legacy of intraregional disputes and competition between the foreign policy interests of global powers in this region, it is very unlikely that a new common regional agenda will emerge.
This policy paper aims to analyze strategic documents from the states of Central Asia, key regional issues, the main logistics and economic projects, participation of Central Asian states in international organizations, the current state of intraregional cooperation, and the role of global powers in the region; it therefore assesses Ukraine’s foreign policy perspectives in Central Asia.