Russia’s invasion of Ukraine found Central Asian states in surprise. Undoubtedly their attention was occupied by events in Kazakhstan beginning of 2022 and developments following widespread unrest when Russian military aggression against Ukraine shook the world.
As for the facts, all Central Asian states and their economies are intertwined with Russia. Some are members of the Eurasian Economic Union as well. The cooperation and interdependency are so high that the threat of Western sanctions over the Kremlin having an effect on them is very tangible and high.
Moreover, three countries of Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, along with Armenia and Belarus, are members of the Russian-led security/military alliance – the CSTO. Therefore, Moscow’s expectation of demonstrated support, including military, was rather realistic and projected.
Despite relatively clear links and bondages to Moscow, the reactions and political statements of national governments from Central Asia differed from complete silence to support or concerns over the developments in Ukraine. President Putin’s recognition of breakaway regions and dismissal of Ukrainian statehood should’ve rung a bell in some Central Asian states, particularly those with significant Russian minorities.