In particular, independence has confronted the new Central Asian nations with sudden responsibility for conduct of their own foreign relations. For each of them, the sphere of foreign policy is not some remote interest; it is intimately related to their future viability as states. With the collapse of the Soviet system, the central authority in Moscow that orchestrated foreign relations for the constituent republics (both with one another and with countries outside the USSR) has disappeared from the scene. Any expectation that its functions would be taken over in substantial form by the Commonwealth ofIndependent States has not withstood the test of time and political reality; at the insistence of Ukraine, CIS coordination was limited to economic issues, I and even there cooperation was rudimentary, and one of the Central Asian states, Turkmenistan, was an abstainer. This created a vacuum in critical areas that could be filled only through painstaking creation of a new fabric of regional and bilateral relations. From the standpoint of the international community, the new situation posed a potential threat to the stability of Asia, particularly if one of the major powers of the continent, Russia, China, or Iran, were to bring Central Asia under its control.