Economic and military-political influence of Russia in Kyrgyzstan

A report prepared by the Kyrgyz expert Anar Musabaeva “Economic and military-political factors of Russia’s influence in Kyrgyzstan” (in Russian).

Key points:

  • Kyrgyzstan’s membership in the EAEU has led to a significant increase in the economic and political influence of the Russia on this country. The main instruments for increasing dependence are: energy and migration dependence, financial assistance from Russia, military-technical and military-political cooperation.
  • Most of the expectations of the Kyrgyz government for the development of the national economy through membership in the EAEU did not come true. The main ones were an increase in exports to the markets of the EAEU countries in a number of industries, an improvement in the situation of labor migrants from Kyrgyzstan in Russia, and preferences for the import of oil products and gas from the Russia.
  • However, according to the results of membership in the EAEU, Kyrgyzstan continues to have a negative balance in foreign trade, there is a periodic use of artificial barriers in relation to the products of Kyrgyzstan, with a simultaneous reduction of customs barriers for goods entering Kyrgyzstan from the countries of the Union.
  • As the main recipient of labor migrants from Kyrgyzstan, Russia uses this to put pressure on Bishkek. In particular, despite the improvement in the situation of Kyrgyz labor migrants after joining the EAEU, the artificial regulation of the rules of their stay (increased bureaucratic obstacles, threats of mass deportation, the introduction of restrictions on the amount of remittances, drawing up “black” lists, etc.) is a tool for pressure on the leadership of Kyrgyzstan.
  • Since 2014 Russia has been the largest financial donor for the Kyrgyz economy (leading provider of Official Donor Aid) in conditions of a constant budget deficit, it is used by Moscow as an instrument of influence on Bishkek.
  • Energy dependence of Kyrgyzstan lies in significant supplies of oil products from Russia, while the gas sector is monopolized by Gazprom, the issue of diversification of energy products has not yet been resolved.
  • Due to limited investment and financial resources, the growth of Russia’s influence in the hydropower industry of Kyrgyzstan is still limited, but Moscow is trying to prevent other players from entering this market.
  • Bishkek remains deeply dependent on Moscow in the area of ​​military-technical and military-political cooperation. Russian military facilities are being deployed on the territory of Kigizstan, while, in accordance with the Protocol between the Russian Federation and Kyrgyzstan of 2019, there is an opportunity to increase the Russian military presence by deploying UAVs.
  • The analytical note draws a general conclusion that due to the high dependence in a number of industries, the weakness of political elites, and the lack of natural energy resources, most likely, Kyrgyzstan will remain in the zone of monopoly influence of Russia, leaving it unlikely under current conditions.

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May 2021
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