Putin finds cold reception from regional leaders at Central Asia summit

By Kanat Altynbayev

The sixth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) took place October 13 in Astana, Kazakhstan. []

The sixth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) took place October 13 in Astana, Kazakhstan. []

ALMATY -- Russian President Vladimir Putin faced a cool reception at the sixth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) earlier this month, say analysts.

This year's summit, held October 13 in Astana, comes amid geopolitical tensions stemming from Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its Russian missile attacks on Ukraine's civilian and energy infrastructure.

Putin endured his first slight even before the event began when Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev did not receive him personally, a courtesy that Tokayev gave Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Putin had to be content with the company of Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov.

Tokayev did not accompany Putin to the airport, as he did Turkmen President Serdar Berdymukhamedov, Nurzhan Altayev, a former member of the Kazakh parliament, noted in an interview with Ukrainian Channel 24.

Other countries' leaders also "tried to avoid contact with Putin", he said.

"Putin did not behave the way he usually does. He was confused. And we did not see leaders of other states exhibiting such 'respect' as in the past," Altayev said.

Tokayev had no personal meeting with Putin while the latter was in Astana, even though he conferred with Turkish, Qatari, Azerbajiani and other leaders one on one, Reuters reported.


Tokayev in his opening remarks noted the problems created in Kazakhstan by Putin's invasion of Ukraine, pointing to disrupted supply chains and the massive influx of draft-evading Russians fleeing to Kazakhstan and other nearby countries.

He complained of personal attacks on Kazakh leaders that "poison the atmosphere of co-operation" in the post-Soviet space, a reference to criticism of the Kazakh leadership in Russian media, according to Reuters.

"Today we live amid an unprecedented geopolitical storm and a growing global economic crisis. This phenomenon has already been called 'global dysfunction'," said Tokayev.

Tokayev mentioned the importance of "achievement of stability in international relations in the face of emerging unprecedented threats", "multilateral mechanisms", and "open dialogue".

Putin for the most part found his proposals ignored at the summit.

He urged a revamped global financial system amid what he called an increasingly multipolar word.

"It is necessary to start reviewing the operating principles of the global financial system," he contended.

To this end, he proposed to actively use national currencies in mutual transactions in order to strengthen CICA member countries' financial sovereignty, develop domestic capital markets and deepen regional economic integration.

Putin instead found reproach.

The world is acutely feeling the consequences of the crisis in Ukraine on a regional and global scale, said Erdoğan of Turkey.

"I always say that a just world can be achieved through diplomacy. There are no winners in war, and there is no loser in a just world," he said, noting the necessity of "stopping the bloodshed as soon as possible".

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon treated Putin, who sat across from him, to a bitter, outraged monologue that ran for more than seven minutes.

Rahmon demanded that Putin stop treating Central Asian countries as though they are "part of the former Soviet Union" and that he start respecting them.

"We've been treated like ... small [lesser] peoples. But we have a history, and we want to be respected," Rahmon told Putin, who throughout the diatribe looked impassively at Rahmon and chewed gum.

'Nothing to offer'

"With his war, Putin has created many problems for Asian countries, including those whom he calls strategic partners," Dosym Satpayev of Almaty, a political scientist and director of the Risk Assessment Group, told Caravanserai

"That's why his agenda was largely ignored by other CICA members -- he simply has nothing to offer them," he said.

Today no one in the East is talking about friendship with Russia -- they are pursuing only their own interests, according to analyst Yuri Poyta of Kyiv, head of the Asia-Pacific Section of the Centre for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies.

"Almost all Asian countries are aware that Russia is either already losing the war with Ukraine, or that this is the likeliest scenario," he told Caravanserai.

"They understand that they may need a relationship with Russia, for example, to get cheap resources or weapons, but strategically, Moscow is in a very difficult position, and its position will grow weaker."

In particular, China and India now have the opportunity to buy cheap raw materials from Russia, while reducing their dependence on Russia in strategic areas, according to Poyta.

"For example, India is already considering the possibility of abandoning Russian weapons in favour of Western ones," Poyta said, without citing a source.

International sanctions are another powerful factor that will help reduce co-operation between CICA members and Russia, he noted.

"Asian countries will be very cautious when co-operating in areas that will complicate relations with the West," he said, adding that even Russia's ally, China, has made it clear that "endless friendship" does indeed have limits.

"China will provide diplomatic and limited economic and propaganda support to Russia, but it will not transfer weapons, technologies or products that are restricted by sanctions," said Poyta. "Moscow's attempts to achieve a full alliance with Beijing against the West have failed."

China will co-operate with Russia only if it is in Chinese interests, agreed Satpayev.

"Putin has become a global pariah because Asian countries, let alone Western ones, consider Russia a sinking state," he said.

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Putin is considered a barbarian and murderer here.