Central Asia


The five former Soviet republics that constitute Central Asia—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—are ethnically, politically, and economically diverse countries with rich histories. Together and separately, they face and pose a range of challenges and opportunities as they define their relationships with neighbors such as China, Russia, and Afghanistan and partner countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. RAND research has explored important aspects of regional policy, including its economic development, security environment, human rights practices, and political stability.

  • Commentary

    A Case for Greater U.S. Engagement in Central Asia

    Central Asia's souring relations with Russia and growing skepticism of Chinese influence have created a rare and valuable window of opportunity for the United States to bolster its image through greater long-term investment in the region.

    Sep 11, 2023

  • Content

    The RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy

    The RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy improves policy by providing decisionmakers and the public with rigorous, objective, cutting-edge research on critical policy challenges facing Asia and U.S.-Asia relations.

    Mar 14, 2018

Explore Central Asia

  • Protesters close Al-Khulani Square, declaring civil disobedience in the October Revolution


    Pathways from Climate Change to Conflict in U.S. Central Command

    This report presents an analysis of the pathways from climate change to conflict and how that relationship is unfolding in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

    Nov 29, 2023

  • U.S. military personnel assigned to United States Central Command deliver supplies in support of a USAID-led humanitarian mission at Pakistan Air Base Nur Khan, Pakistan.


    Defense Planning Implications of Climate Change for U.S. Central Command

    This report examines how U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) planners could use operations, activities, and investments in the coming decades to address security threats related to stressors from climate change in the CENTCOM area of responsibility.

    Nov 29, 2023

  • A local yemeni man accompanying with goats on the field of hadramaut, yemen


    A Hotter and Drier Future Ahead: An Assessment of Climate Change in U.S. Central Command

    This report characterizes how climate hazards will affect the physical environment in the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility in 2035, 2050, and 2070.

    Nov 29, 2023

  • A Russian military convoy travel on a main road leads to the River Enguri, about 3 km from the western Georgian city of Zugdidi, August 19, 2008.


    Anticipating Flashpoints with Russia: Patterns and Drivers

    The authors combined quantitative and qualitative modes of analysis to better understand and anticipate flashpoints with Russia.

    Sep 25, 2023

  • RAND Weekly Recap


    Teacher Pay, the Costs of Insomnia, Wildfire Prevention: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on teachers' dissatisfaction with their pay and work hours, the staggering costs of insomnia, connections between wildfires and food insecurity., and more.

    Sep 15, 2023

  • Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at the military parade to mark Victory Day in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2023, photo by EyePress News/Reuters


    Advancing U.S. Relationships in Central Asia: An Opportunity Not to Be Squandered

    Concerned about Putin's imperialist actions in Ukraine, five nations in Central Asia are looking to the West to offset the political, economic, and security-related pressures they feel from Russia and, increasingly, China. It would be a mistake for the United States not to seize this moment.

    May 25, 2023

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, December 9, 2022, photo by Vladimir Pirogov/Reuters


    Russia's Appetite May Extend Beyond Ukraine

    Unless Russian forces are defeated in Ukraine or withdrawn by new Kremlin rulers, Moscow might assault other post-Soviet neighbors. The West may face limits on the extent to which it could help them thwart such attacks.

    Feb 17, 2023

  • Exploring Workplace Financial Wellbeing Interventions


    Exploring Workplace Financial Wellbeing Interventions

    Workplace financial wellbeing interventions could offer a key means for addressing rising financial concerns and mental health issues in the workplace. In this video, Christian van Stolk and Jennifer Bousfield describe their findings from an extensive analysis of British and Asian workplace survey data.

    Mar 9, 2021

  • Report


    Russia's Limit of Advance: Scenarios

    Russia's ability to deploy military forces around the world is significantly depleted from the Soviet era. This report describes the strengths and weaknesses of Russia's ground force deployment capacity.

    May 27, 2020

  • Members of Russia's National Guard block participants of a rally in support of detained Russian investigative journalist Ivan Golunov in Moscow, Russia, June 12, 2019, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters


    A Democratic Spring Could Be Stirring in Eurasia. The West's Quiet Support Can Help

    An incipient Eurasian “democratic spring” may not yet be on the horizon, but political awareness and civil society are gaining ground. The West could contribute by continuing to help to fill information vacuums, and by offering training and support for nurturing civil society, conducting free and fair elections, and developing competitive politics.

    Jun 13, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Conservation Geopolitics: Envisioning the Future of the 'Belt & Road Initiative' in the Mountains of Central Asia

    China's Belt and Road Initiative offers Central Asia opportunity for rapid economic development through transport corridors. For such development to be sustainable, policy needs to focus on critical goals such as climate action and water resilience.

    Oct 30, 2018

  • Participants march on the street during Alilo, a religious procession to celebrate Orthodox Christmas in Tbilisi, Georgia, January 7, 2018


    Religion, Conflict, and Stability in the Former Soviet Union

    Religion is a visible force in the sociopolitical life of post-Soviet countries. Understanding how religion has contributed to peace or tensions in the region could inform policymakers and others working to bring stability to the former Soviet republics.

    Jan 15, 2018

  • The three main members of the Eurasian Economic Union, Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin, meet in Astana March 20, 2015


    Eurasia Facing Tough Choices for the Future

    There is much to be said for Eurasia's rich ethnic, national, religious, and cultural diversity. In the economic sphere, however, Eurasians should reassess bad habits, such as weak property rights, centralized state control, and associated corruption.

    Aug 13, 2015

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Developing Citizen Report Cards for Primary Care: Evidence from Qualitative Research in Rural Tajikistan

    Transparency interventions, such as public reporting, have emerged as a potential policy approach to improving the performance of health care providers in resource-constrained settings.

    Jun 24, 2015

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin exchanges documents with his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, December 22, 2014


    Can Eurasian Energy Compete?

    Cheaper oil, government interference, and market dynamics jeopardize the future of Russian and Caspian energy. To be globally competitive, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan should let the private sector play a greater role and make more decisions on commercial, rather than political grounds.

    Jan 16, 2015

  • Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev meets with U.S. President Barack Obama during a nuclear security summit in April 2010


    Celebrating the Success of Project Sapphire

    Twenty years ago this week, the United States transported over 600 kilograms of at-risk, weapons-usable highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Kazakhstan to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for safekeeping. Kazakhstan had the courage to trust its new relationship with the U.S. to help prevent the proliferation of dangerous material to countries that might seek to build nuclear weapons.

    Nov 21, 2014

  • Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping shake hands before the opening ceremony of the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia summit in Shanghai May 21, 2014


    China's Strategy Toward South and Central Asia

    China's response to the complex challenges on its western borders during the past two decades has been to adopt an

    Aug 11, 2014

  • A Chinese contractor at the site of the Nairobi-Thika highway project


    The Strategy Behind China's Aid Expansion

    Between 2001 and 2011, China's pledged foreign aid was $671 billion. In all regions and countries, China's assistance focuses on the development of natural resources, principally energy-related (coal, oil, and gas). Both parties presumably benefit from China's aid but both are also exposed to added risks and hidden costs.

    Oct 9, 2013