In a Sunday interview, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the European Union of trying to expel Russia from Central Asia, asserting that these attempts were proving unsuccessful.
Russia’s influence in the region, traditionally seen as its sphere of influence, has declined since the Ukraine offensive, leading to competition from Europe, Turkey, Iran, and China for influence in Central Asia.
Lavrov stated, “The European Union isn’t concealing its intentions to restrict (Russia) in every possible way and force it out of Central Asia and the South Caucasus,” emphasizing Russia’s longstanding presence in the region and its commitment to staying.
Lavrov’s comments were made during an interview in Kazakhstan, coinciding with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
This visit followed a separate trip by French President Emmanuel Macron, who praised Kazakhstan for resisting the dominance of a few powers, implicitly referring to Russia. Lavrov criticized Macron’s remarks as “quite brazen for diplomatic language,” while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggested that Western countries were investing in Central Asia with the goal of sidelining Russia.
Central Asian nations, former Soviet republics seeking diversified international partnerships, witnessed heightened diplomatic activity, including visits from Turkish and Iranian leaders to Uzbekistan.