Brief: Russia Is Wooing Uzbekistan

Russia is at least for now modestly content with the status of its western and southwestern flanks, so it expects to find new ways to cooperate with Central Asia.

Background: Among the most important of modern Russia’s foreign policy objectives is to reclaim the influence it lost when the Soviet Union collapsed, particularly in the buffer zones that constitute its near abroad: Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. To that end, Moscow has helped prop up or destabilize in its favor countries to its west such as Belarus and Ukraine, and has maintained a presence in the Caucasus through the deployment of peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh. Its sights are now on Central Asia. What Happened: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently spoke to his Uzbek counterpart, Bakhodir Kurbanov, to discuss a range of issues related to military and military-technical cooperation between their countries. Meanwhile, reports indicate that Russian state development corporation VEB.RF, in conjunction with other partners, is ready to hammer out the financing on the second stage of a project to increase oil and gas production in Uzbekistan. Moscow will purportedly allocate another $650 million to strengthen Russian-Uzbek trade and economic cooperation. Bottom Line: Russia clearly wants to maintain its energy interests in Uzbekistan. But more than that, it sees such partnerships as a way to restore broader ties in a rapidly developing and potentially useful country. Russia […]

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