Central Asia - Russia relations amidst the Ukraine war

Webinar · 04.05.2023 11:00 - 12:30

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, launched in February 2022, has shaped Russia’s relations with governments around the world. The impact has been noticeable also in Central Asia, where links to Russia had remained strong after the Soviet collapse. Upon Russia’s aggression, all the governments in the region have sought to position themselves as neutral while signalling various degrees of both condemnation of and support to the so-called special military operation in Ukraine. Russia, in turn, continues to display Central Asians as its solid allies, even if some commentators question the region’s commitment to supporting Russia in its confrontation with the West.

This webinar examines the evolution of Russia’s relations with the five post-Soviet states of Central Asia since February 24, 2022, in spheres ranging from economy and security to society and culture. Are Central Asian states complying with Western sanctions imposed on Russia or are they helping Moscow circumvent them? Are there changes to labour migration from Central Asia to Russia, and how are the newly arrived Russian migrants settling in Central Asia? Is Russia seen as a security threat or a security guarantor, and how have the security prospects of the region changed? And, finally, is Central Asia indeed turning away from Russia and drawing closer to China, as countless news headlines claim?


Dossym Satpayev, Director, Kazakhstan Risk Assessment Group
Kate Mallinson, Associate Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House
Mirzokhid Karshiev, Researcher, University of Helsinki
Aijan Sharshenova, Bishkek-based political analyst and Research Fellow at the Foreign Policy Centre, UK

Kristiina Silvan, Postdoctoral Fellow, FIIA



Dossym Satpayev

Director, Kazakhstan Risk Assessment Group

Dossym Satpayev has been the Director of Kazakhstan Risks Assessment Group since 2002. Kazakhstan Risks Assesment Group is a non-governmental analytical organization, which is engaged in political consulting, connected with the assessment of political level, investment and other risks in Central Asia and in the region of Caspian Sea. He is also a Board member of Kazakhstan Council on International Relations. Satpayev also holds positions as a Political Analyst at FORBES.KZ and is a Co-founder of Alliance of Analytical organizations.

Kate Mallinson

Associate Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House

Kate Mallinson has been an Associate Fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Programme in Chatham House since 2017. She is an acknowledged independent political risk expert on Central Asia and she has worked continuously in the region since 1987. Mallinson has spent over fifteen years in the risk management business advising foreign companies on the impact of regulatory, security domestic and geopolitical developments in the Central Asian region and elsewhere in the former Soviet Union.

Mallinson has worked in advocacy in Uzbekistan (1999-2001), Ukraine (2001) and Russia (1996-1997) for Médécins Sans Frontières. As well as working on political risk in the region, she is also researching informal networks and governance in Central Asia, and travels frequently to the region as an election observer for the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe.

Kate Mallinson is also a group member of the Locarno Group within the Eastern Europe & Central Asia Directorate (EECAD) at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Mirzokhid Karshiev

Researcher, University of Helsinki

Mirzokhid Karshiev is a PhD researcher in the Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal and Regional Changes at the University of Helsinki. His research interests include governance, state-society relations and development patterns in Central Asia.

Aijan Sharshenova

Bishkek-based political analyst and Research Fellow at the Foreign Policy Centre, UK

Aijan Sharshenova is a Bishkek-based political analyst and a Research Fellow at the Foreign Policy Centre in London. Dr. Sharshenova holds a PhD in Politics awarded at the University of Leeds, UK. In addition to her academic background in international studies, Dr. Sharshenova has worked at the UN and UNDP country offices in the Middle East. Dr. Sharshenova’s current research project is on Russia’s soft power and public diplomacy in Central Asia. Other research interests include democratization, democracy promotion, autocratic diffusion and international development with the regional focus on Russia and Central Asia.


Kristiina Silvan

Postdoctoral Fellow, FIIA

Kristiina Silvan is Postdoctoral Fellow in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood and Russia research programme at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. She earned her PhD with Distinction in the discipline of Political History at the University of Helsinki in February 2022. Her PhD dissertation is titled Legacies of the Komsomol: Government-Affiliated Youth Activism in post-Soviet Belarus and Russia.

At present, Dr. Silvan works primarily on state–society relations in Central Asian states, especially Kazakhstan, and Russia’s role in the Central Asian region. Her research articles have been published in the journals Europe-Asia Studies, Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, Young: Nordic Journal of Youth Studies and Idäntutkimus: Finnish Review of East European Studies.