Since the collapse of the Soviet Union Russia has sought to maintain its influence on its outskirts. Central Asia is a significant part of the CIS. Russian President Vladimir Putin 27-28 February traveled to the Central Asian countries - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. All of them are part of Russia led by the Organization of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, in addition, are members of the Eurasian Economic Union and Tajikistan is considering the possibility of accession to the EAEC. Russia maintains a significant military presence in these countries (in the first place it comes to the air base "Kant" in Kyrgyzstan and 201-nd military base in Tajikistan), and collaborates with the local armed forces in the framework of regular joint exercises.
However, these three countries are also in a difficult situation: their economy was in a desperate situation because of low oil prices and dependence on the Russian economy, the easing of sanctions. These pressures can lead to the rapid growth of protest movements and intensifying armed groups. Russia is particularly concerned about the increase of the influence of Daishev and other terrorist groups in neighboring northern Afghanistan. Moscow hopes to weaken the factors of instability in the region and at the same time take the opportunity to expand its military and economic influence.
The first stage of this political tour was the visit to Kazakhstan, which emphasizes the close working relationship between Putin and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The meeting started with an informal ski trip in the outskirts of Almaty. Putin expressed his approval of Nazarbayev in connection with the role played by Kazakhstan in the peace negotiations on the settlement of the Syrian conflict. In addition, both sides are preparing for the coming process of transfer of power in Kazakhstan. Nazarbayev, who has already turned 76 years, recently announced plans to transfer part of the presidential powers to parliament and the cabinet. Moscow hopes that the next leader of Kazakhstan will stick to the counter pro-Nazarbayev position, and intends to work closely with Astana in this critical moment.
Putin's visit to Tajikistan was mainly devoted to the alarming situation in neighboring Afghanistan. Both sides agreed to intensify cooperation on the protection of an extended and clear southern border of Tajikistan. They were not informed about the details of his plan, but Putin said that its implementation would involve the possibility of a Russian military base in Tajikistan. Moscow has recently indicated that it would like to expand its military presence in the country by leasing the air base, "Aini" near Dushanbe to strengthen territorial defense of the country's air component, mainly based on the need to prevent the flow of military operations in Afghanistan.
However, while Russia denies talks included discussion of the expansion of its military presence. Moscow is actually offered Dushanbe certain concessions, promising to pay more attention to the problems of Tajik migrants and to lift the ban on entry into Russia with those who have been deprived of this right. Remittances from Russia make up almost half of Tajikistan's GDP, and Moscow hopes to maintain those relationships that allow it to compete with the growing influence of China.
During his visit to Kyrgyzstan, Putin discussed the problems of security and economic cooperation, in particular, the role of Kyrgyzstan in the Eurasian Economic Union. A meeting between the Russian and Kyrgyz Minister of Internal Affairs where they discussed cooperation in the fight against drugs and terrorism.
Noteworthy timing of this visit of the Russian president. The fact that it took place against a background of anti-government protests, which intensified in Kyrgyzstan after the arrest of opposition leader Omurbek Tekerbaeva last weekend. While these demonstrations have not acquired a considerable scale, but in the future they could lead to an escalation of political confrontation and destabilize the country. Kyrgyzstan has experienced two revolutions, in 2005 and 2010 years, and remains vulnerable to the long-standing clan differences between the northern and southern parts of the country. Given that the current presidential election scheduled in November, and also taking account the recent statement by President Almazbek Atambayev on his refusal to participate in them, Russia will follow with attention the situation in Kyrgyzstan.