Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have long expressed disappointment in the Russia-dominated economic bloc, and the Kremlin wants Tajikistan to sign on before China moves in.
Falling incomes, rampant corruption, extreme inequality, and political suppression are some of reasons strengthening the opposition to President Vladimir Putin.
Central Asian migrants working in Russia face a host of injustices and abuses, while the region's reliance on remittances undermines economic growth and development, analysts say.
Vulnerable Kyrgyzstan has been particularly hard hit during the pandemic, and neighbouring Russia and China -- despite vows of support -- have made things worse.
The $1 billion Central Asia Investment Partnership is aimed at developing regional co-operation and increasing regional security.
As the world grapples with the economic effects of the pandemic, China's share of the global market has increasingly become larger in part through its sale of personal protective equipment.
Moscow is not letting up on efforts to convince Ashgabat that only Russia can help Turkmenistan improve its economy and live in security.
If Central Asian countries can't pay off an accrued debt, mineral assets and territory will in all likelihood be transferred to China, which a few countries in the region have already done.
Moscow's 'generosity' always come at a price, observers say, as Putin's newest moves in Belarus are similar to those aimed at controlling resources and making ex-Soviet states dependent.
A new Uzbek satellite city in Tashkent Province and Kazakh-Uzbek trade centre straddling the border will lead to closer trade relations between the two countries, observers say.