Increasingly, Central Asia, and specifically the Caspian Sea Basin (CSB), is becoming a crowded place, as government officials and oil interests from European Union countries, the United States, Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, and elsewhere (including increasingly energy-thirsty India) vie for partnerships with the energy-rich former Soviet republics. Russia lays special claim to what it sees as its “near abroad” (notably, the Caucasus and Central Asia), and its leaders strive to limit US influence over the energy resources of the CSB. China, a global economic power still in ascension, not only works with Russia to counter US influence in the area but also seeks to develop and import more of the region's energy resources to fuel its economic expansion. Both China and Russia aim to curb rising Islamic influence in the region. This essay examines the interests and policies in the CSB of Russia and China, respectively, since the end of the Cold War and their bilateral relationship. While the two countries enjoy a strategic partnership that serves to counter the United States economically, politically, and militarily, lingering mistrust and divergent policy interests could work to limit the extent of this relationship between these two giants of the non-Western world.

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