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Caught in the middle: what is Bishkek’s hedging stratagem?

Maximilian Ohle, Richard J. Cook, Zhaoying Han & Rysbek Mamazhanov

vol. VIII(1)

Pages 45-62


Abstract: The contemporary topos of Sino-Russo relations is one of

cooperation and entente. The alternative view is that Russia and China

are now locked in a long-term structural peer rivalry over the Eurasian

rim-lands, both offering various net benefits to subordinate states in the

area in order to induce them into their respective orders. Traditionally a

Kremlin-centric order’s stomping ground, this theatre is undergoing a

major systemic change as China’s Belt and Road Initiative penetrates

deeper into the region. Simultaneously, Russia is concerned with

maintaining its great power status. It has been essentially reestablishing

a sequel political and economic order to fill the void left by

the Soviet Union – with the inception of the Commonwealth of

Independent States and its related sub-institutions such as the Eurasian

Economic Union (economics), as well as the Collective Security Treaty

Organisation (security). This situation has left Kyrgyzstan caught in the

middle, yet also in a position to seek the best set of net benefits. Taking

into consideration David A. Lake’s hierarchy formula, this paper will

focus on Bishkek’s hedging stratagem – searching for the best range of

net benefits from both prevalent powers in the region – with regards to

their interests and preferences. Additionally, the paper will identify an

overlapping dual order arrangement for the region as Russia retains a

dominant security position and China provides various economic

development projects (BRI), needed by states such as Kyrgyzstan.

Keywords: Kyrgyzstan, Russia, China, Regional Power Hedging,

Hierarchy

Maximilian Ohle, Richard J. Cook
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