It has become increasingly clear in the past few years that Russia has no intention to relax its grip over the former Soviet bloc. Ukraine has recently become a good case in point. Although Moscow is clearly preoccupied with keeping its western borders and geopolitical interests safe, it has not forgotten about the East.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s political project to pull former Soviet republics of Central Asia into the Kremlin’s orbit via the Customs Union, is part of a larger plan to bring Russia back to manage one fifth of the world’s largest landmass. Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia has sought, through various economic treaties, to re-establish its control over the Central Asian republics.

The first one, and most well-known, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) included 12 of the newly independent republics and was formed in late 1991. Russia then proposed the idea of an Economic Union in 1993 and after two years in January 1995, Russia signed a treaty on the formation of the Eurasian Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, which were later joined by Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.