Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Businessweek
Economics

Putin Is Losing Out to China in Central Asia's Latest 'Great Game'

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon meet on the sidelines of an informal summit of the regional security group in 2013
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon meet on the sidelines of an informal summit of the regional security group in 2013Photograph by Alexei Nikolsky/AFP via Getty Images

As President Vladimir Putin strains to keep Ukraine within Russia’s grasp, he may be losing his grip on another part of his would-be empire: the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, which are increasingly turning toward China for investment and trade.

In the latest sign of its growing economic ties with the region, China is planning a $16.3 billion fund to finance railways, roads, and pipelines across Central Asia, reviving the centuries-old Silk Road trade route between China and Europe. President Xi Jinping first proposed the idea last year during a visit to Kazakhstan, the region’s wealthiest country.