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Reimagining Eurasia

A New "Great Game" Will Not Increase U.S. Influence in Russia's Backyard

Courtesy Reuters

As Kyrgyzstan descended into chaos after President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in April 2010, most observers were focused on the fate of the key U.S. airbase there. They feared that Moscow had orchestrated the unrest as revenge for Bakiyev reneging on his alleged promise to shut down the base and would now demand that the new government follow through on that pledge. But instead of indulging in geopolitical gamesmanship as usual, Russia and the United States actually worked together, pursuing back-channel talks that facilitated Bakiyev's safe escape into exile. Periodic consultations since April have thus far managed to prevent conflict between the Cold War adversaries in the one country where both have military outposts. This marked a tectonic shift in the geopolitics of Eurasia. For the first time in over a decade, what Russia calls its "near abroad" was a locus of cooperation, not confrontation, between Russia and the United

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