As Western governments mull additional sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion and subsequent annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, Washington and Brussels won’t be the only world capitals watching to see the impact: Should the new restrictions bite into Russia’s economy, they will have a painful trickle-down effect on the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.
Twenty-two years after they formally freed themselves of Moscow’s dominance, most of the region’s economies are still intricately tied to Russia’s. Kazakhstan is bound to Russia by a customs union, while the region’s two poorest countries, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, are both deeply dependent on migrant remittances.
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David Trilling is EurasiaNet’s Central Asia editor. Asel Kalybekova contributed reporting.