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Krzysztof KozłowskiWarsaw School of EconomicsThe New Great Game Revised- Regional Security in Post-Soviet Central AsiaWhen Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uz-bekistan gained independence in 1991 after over a century of Russian and Soviet rule, none of the republics was fully prepared for the conse-quences from the collapse of the USSR. Their sociological profiles were shaped by Soviet policies and their economic situation was a function of a Soviet planned economy. Their political elites did not have any experi-ence concerning international relations either, as their external borders and affairs were quite strictly controlled by the USSR. They were inex-perienced actors exposed from the very beginning to intensive political pressure of foreign powers aspiring to broaden their own influence in the post-soviet space.The young republics were not the only actors surprised with the ge-opolitical change. The disintegration of the USSR marked a frantic be-ginning of a so-called New Great Game (Rashid, 1997). Since 1991 this concept has formed a predominant theoretical framework used for anal-yses of political changes taking place in post-soviet Central Asia. On the one hand, it reflects the attempts of the Russian Federation to keep control over the post-soviet states after the collapse of the USSR. On the other, it shows the attempts of other international powers competing with Russia, like the United States, to broaden their own spheres of influ-ence. The geopolitical struggle takes place in a region important for both strategic and economic reasons, for it is situated between the Caucasus, Afghanistan, North-West China and Siberia, and it contains reasonable amounts of energy resources – primarily oil and natural gas (Currier and Dorraj (ed.): 83–101).
191The New Great Game Revised- Regional Security in Post-Soviet…The term New Great Game was accepted not only because it vividly describes the relations between international powers in the region, which is little known to the average reader. Historically, it refers to the Great Game between the Russian and British Empires at the break of the 19thand 20thcenturies, which was taking place in the very same part of the globe. It is also based on the classical geopolitical concept defining the territory of contemporary post-soviet Central Asia as theHeartland– the region allowing to politically control the whole of Eurasia (Lach and Wendt, 2010). Thus, the analysis in the terms of a New Great Game gives us useful tools for examining the ongoing political processes in Central Asia. This is based on a theoretical framework allowing one to develop a reference to analogical processes in other parts of the world and places the discourse in the context of a broader history of international relations and international relations theory.