chapter  7
14 Pages

Just good friends: Kazakhstan’s and Turkmenistan’s energy relations with Russia


Introduction This chapter examines two significant inter-state relationships in the former Soviet area: between Kazakhstan and Russia and between Turkmenistan and Russia. Hydrocarbons are central to both relationships – oil in the case of Kazakhstan and natural gas in the case of Turkmenistan. We argue that both Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have tried to strike a balance between maintaining close cooperation with Russia and keeping it at arm’s length through collaboration with other major powers – China in particular. We draw loosely on realist concepts of ‘bandwagoning’ and balancing as formulated by Waltz (1979) and Walt (1987): bandwagoning is when a weaker state aligns itself with a dominant neighbour in order to avoid trouble; balancing is when the weaker state aligns itself with other states in order to counter the influence, threats or potential pressure of a dominant neighbour. At the end of the chapter we argue that, although Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan’s approaches to Russia involve similar combinations of bandwagoning and balancing, the two countries have followed these approaches for slightly different reasons.