"Knowing Russian used to be a key to success in Central Asia, but now it’s is taking a backburner to English and other languages. Why? The answer involves a sharp decline in ethnic Russians in the region, a pivot on education, energy independence and a war of words. Does it really matter? Actually, yes. The de-Russification of Central Asia could allow the region to dust off quite a bit of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s influence and thus impact his global pull.
In Central Asia, the younger generation sees Russian as one of many languages to learn as opposed to the language to learn. A recent study showed 82 percent of Turkmenistanis lack any Russian language knowledge, as do 87 percent of Tajikistanis, 59 percent of Uzbekistanis, 50 percent of Kyrgyzstanis and 16 percent of the residents of Kazakhstan. While many Kazakhstanis still know Russian, they have followed the trend of most Central Asian countries in reducing the number of Russian-language school pupils. Between 1990-1991 and 2010-2011 Kazakhstan reduced the number of pupils by 69 percent. Kyrgyzstan was the only country with a rise.
The decline of the use of Russian language is a significant and obvious change in Central Asia, one that has Putin worried. In fact, he said that the decline of Russian being spoken as a native language around the world is “ruining the country” and “creating problems,” and even called for a Council of the Russian language, created by the Ministry of Education.
Rough estimates claim the total of Russian language speakers will fall from 300 million in 1990 to 150 million by 2025."[source]
There has been a concerted effort by Russian speakers to try to stem this tide since the '70's...Many Ukrainians fear this policy of Russification [whose high-water marks were the 1975 and 1979 Tashkent conferences on use of the language in the USSR]...this is why language issues are so important to them..
And this is why Putin is willing to break clearly defined international law to grab Crimea...