The suddenness of the Taliban’s victory amidst the final departure of United States forces from Afghanistan has intensified fears in Central Asia about the threat that movement poses to them. Consequently, it has sparked discussions across Central Asian capital about how they should respond—both in terms of their own policies at home and through the alliances they have with others. At the same time, what has happened in Afghanistan has led outside powers like Russia and China to beef up their current positions in some regional countries and, intriguingly, to use the current crisis to expand security cooperation with Turkmenistan, which has been reluctant to cooperate in this way in the past. In this rapidly changing situation, both Moscow and Beijing have a common interest in stability; but their larger goals may well put them at odds in the future. At a minimum, their differences in focus and approach are certain to be…

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