Abstract. The article analyzes the innovations that determine the main directions and specific characteristics of international political competition in Central Asia. Particular attention is paid to political alternatives presented by the leading partners of the Central Asian countries – Russia, China, Turkey and Iran. In the context of the rivalry unfolding in the post-Soviet Central Asian space, the multi-vector policy of the five Central Asian states opens up a “window of opportunity” for various external forces to influence political and economic processes in the region in such a way that its states become objects of multilateral contention. Russia, which has the most powerful economic and military-political resource in the CIS, has a serious potential to promote its interests in Central Asia. They are primarily aiming at maintaining political stability in the Asian part of the post-Soviet space. Russia is also initiating many integration innovations in Central Asia, developing military cooperation with the countries of the region. At the same time, in Central Asia, Russia is confronted by rival forces. In the forefront is China. This great power has significantly expanded its influence in Central Asia, especially within the framework of the One Belt, One Road initiative. Economic, political, and cultural structures operating in Central Asia under the aegis of Turkey act often as alternatives to Russian integration projects. But Turkey, like Iran, has restrictions on its activities in Central Asia. Therefore, the effectiveness of the policy of these large Middle Eastern states is lower than that of Russia and China. China, Russia, and Iran are motivated to limit US influence in Eurasia, which occasionally drives them closer. In a sense, Turkey agrees with the idea of reducing the political presence of non-regional states in Central Asia. But when the US ceases to be a priority in the foreign policy of all four states, the rivalry between them may re-emerge. This will inevitably lead to a clash of interests, an increase in competition of ideas, integration projects, political and military strategies.
Keywords: competition, post-Soviet space, Central Asia, Russia, security, alternatives, multi-vector policy
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