Tony Barber: Central Asia is emerging cautiously from the shadow of Russia


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Russia's president Vladimir Putin leads Tajikistan's president Emomali Rahmon (left), Uzbekistan's president Shavkat Mirziyoyev (second left), Kyrgyzstan's president Sadyr Japarov and Belarus's president Alexander Lukashenko (second right) during an informal summit in St Petersburg on December 27th. Photograph: Alexey Danichev/Getty Images In its 19th-century heyday, the tsarist empire bestrode central Asia in seven-league boots. In Soviet times, Russia’s footprint on the vast region became even heavier. Now, largely because of Vladimir Putin’s misfiring war of conquest in Ukraine, the countries of central Asia are emerging from Russia’s shadow and asserting their independence in ways not seen since the collapse of...