Russian President Vladimir Putin is blaming the West for Russia’s declining influence in Central Asia. Putin referenced one of his conspiracy theories about foreigners scheming to rob the world and destroy Russia. Russia’s Central Asian partners have broadly distanced themselves from the war, while refraining from direct criticism of Russia’s aggression. If there are any tensions in relations between a bellicose Russia which has invaded its neighbor and its former colonies in Central Asia, outsiders are to blame for stirring them up. That, at least, was the message delivered by Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit with Central Asian leaders in Kazakhstan on October 14. “The situation that has taken shape in the world and in the region encourages the activation of all mechanisms of cooperation between us,” he told the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. There were “attempts from the outside to hamper the […]