New Research Division Publication -
Central Asia and NATO against a Backdrop of Changing Geopolitical Realities
- Fellowship Monograph 10: "Central Asia and NATO against a Backdrop of Changing Geopolitical Realities?", by Uguloy Mukhtorova.
The author of this monograph, Uguloy Mukhtorova, was the first Partnership for Peace (PfP) Research Fellow from Tajikistan at the NATO Defense College. Her paper provides us with detailed insights and analysis on NATO’s relationships with its five Central Asian PfP partners. NATO and Central Asian countries established those relationships in the framework of Partnership for Peace Agreements after the collapse of the Soviet Union, in the 1990s. However, not all relations with Central Asian states were identical, nor at the same level. This state-by-state overview of NATO-Central Asia relationships gives detailed information on each.
The author believes that Central Asian countries gained strategic importance due to NATO’s engagement with Afghanistan, where Central Asian PfP states served as logistic hubs and transit zones in support of NATO operations. However, those same Central Asian states realized diminished importance following the withdrawal of NATO combatant forces from Afghanistan since 2014. It is unfortunate that the Central Asia-NATO relationships are seen through an Afghanistan prism rather than as established PfP framework nations. The quick detachment of the NATO from the region and Moscow’s stand vis-à-vis Ukraine, including annexation of Crimea, have influenced the foreign policymaking process of Central Asian states in ways unfavorable to the West.
The author believes that Central Asia remains crucial for Euro-Atlantic security as a way of balancing Russia and China, using an existing partnership framework to prevent security threats from challenging Euro-Atlantic security. The paper provides recommendations for future engagement of NATO with Central Asia in a PfP framework through education and by promoting interoperability and values.
We hope you enjoy this tour through Central Asia.
Jeffrey A. Larsen, PhD, Director Research Division