The Tian-Shan Gambit: Europe’s Ambitions in Central Asia 

Central Asia is a vast and resource-rich region situated between three major centers of influence. Formerly part of both the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union, its nations have only recently gained independence following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. They continue to be influenced by Moscow, although they have made some significant strides towards autonomy in their own right. The Russian military’s actions in Ukraine have continuously eroded the credibility of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military alliance. This, coupled with a significant loss of soft power in the countries of the post- Soviet space, which traditionally formed part of its sphere of influence, could create an opening for other influential actors to emerge as real alternative partners. The European Union wishes to consider an even more proactive role in Central Asia, given the young nations’ of Central Asia newfound pragmatism in foreign policy and its potential to enhance EU interests.