In part one of this article series on Uzbekistan, I explored the changing security dynamic of Central Asia and the impact that the adjustments have had on both United States policy towards Uzbekistan and military modernization in the former Soviet republic. Uzbekistan’s recent policy pivots, to include an agreement on acquiring military weapons systems from the U.S. and China, have altered the security landscape of Central Asia, potentially having great effect upon Russian capacity to project power throughout the post-Soviet space and influence national policy throughout the states of a region rich in natural resources and contested by several powerful state actors: Russia, China, the European Union, and the U.S.
Historically, Russian leaders have pursued dominance over Central Asia to ensure buffer space between a vulnerable Moscow and potential invasion forces. The mountainous regions along the limits of the former Soviet Union at the edges of the southwestern and southern borders acted as buffer zones against invasion and ensured lines of communication and supply to growing population centers where Soviet military personnel were garrisoned and equipment was housed.
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