Russian President Vladimir Putin and Uzbek counterpart Shavkat Mirziyoyev on October 19, pressed a symbolic button to launch a project to build Uzbekistan’s first nuclear power plant. This is likely to be Central Asia's first new-era nuclear plant.  It is expected that about 15% of energy generation within Uzbekistan by 2030 will be accounted for by nuclear power. The first block of nuclear power plant would be launched by 2028. This project is in line with Uzbekistan’s goal of boosting its energy exports to neighbouring countries, with a special focus on Afghanistan.
 
Putin’s visit to Uzbekistan resulted in more agreements, worth larger sums of money, than any other bilateral meeting the Uzbek President has held to date. A total of 785 long-term and short-term strategic projects worth US$27.1 billion including the US$11 billion nuclear power plant, along with several agreements between the two countries’ institutions of higher learning were signed. In comparison, Mirziyoyev’s visits to Paris and to Washington, DC each resulted in around $5 billion worth of contracts. Even Mirziyaev’s trip to China, resulted in “only” $23 billion in contracts. These ambitious deals are in part motivated by Moscow’s desire to counter the rise in Chinese investment in Uzbekistan.
 
The Russian economic move in Uzbekistan followed other political decisions by Moscow in recent past. Russia, for instance, agreed to military concessions to Tashkent that up until now were available only to full members of major Russia-led organizations such as Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Russia began to sell military hardware to Tashkent at domestic prices which make Uzbekistan the only non-CSTO country in the post-Soviet space enjoying this privilege. Both countries have increased their military cooperation and held their first bilateral military exercise in 2017, after a 12-year pause under former Uzbek President Islam Karimov.
 
Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security destroyed a "sleeping" cell of an international terrorist organization in Kyrgyzstan's northern district. Five foreign citizens and four Kyrgyz citizens were detained on suspicion of being members of an international terrorist organization. They were actively involved in recruiting Kyrgyz nationals to join the ranks of terrorists in Syria and Afghanistan.
 
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev met Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev in Astana. Nazarbayev stressed the importance of expanding economic exchanges and highlighted bilateral cooperation within international organizations. Kazakh-Russian trade between January and August, 2018 grew by 8.3 percent over the same period in 2017 to US$11.3 billion. Kazakh exports to Russia in that period grew 13.3 percent to US$3.4 billion. Russian direct investment in Kazakhstan between 2005 and 2018 was US$13.4 billion. Kazakh investment in Russia during the same period was US$4 billion. In Kazakhstan, there are more than 9,000 businesses with Russian participation. In his meeting with Sagintaev, Medvedev discussed integration, trade and investments. They discussed ongoing and planned projects in fuel and energy, transport and transit, technology and issues related to  the Baikonur Cosmodrome. 
 
Secretary General of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), responding to global criticism of China’s forcible, systematic detention and enforced political education of up to one million ethnic Uygurs and other Muslims said that China’s contributions to fight against international terrorism were “big and rational” and that all member countries had praised China’s work during China’s rotating chairmanship which ended this year.
 
Pakistan President met his Kyrgyz counterpart in Istanbul, Turkey and discussed matters of bilateral and mutual interest. They agreed to enhance bilateral interaction and cooperation in trade, economy, investment, culture, education, science and technology, defense and parliamentary exchanges.They stressed the need to increase the role of SCO for promotion of people to people contacts.
 
Uzbekistan is making efforts to bring Taliban to negotiations with the Afghan government to start peace talks and end the current war in Afghanistan. 
 
Uzbekistan plans to complete construction of the Uzbek section of the new Surkhan - Puli-Khumri transmission line in December 2019.
 
 
November 20, 2018

 

About the Author

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar belongs to the Indian Foreign Service and has acquitted his responsibilities in the diplomatic service for 34 years. He was Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia and has worked in senior diplomatic positions in Indian Embassies/Missions in Washington DC, Brussels, Moscow, Geneva, Tehran, Dhaka and Bangkok and also at Headquarters in India. He negotiated for India in the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations and in negotiations for India-EU, India-ASEAN and India-Thailand Free Trade Agreements.

He contributed significantly to strengthening strategic ties and promoting cultural cooperation between India and USA, EU, Russia and other countries.Ambassador Sajjanhar worked as head of National Foundation for Communal Harmony to promote amity and understanding between different religions, faiths and beliefs. Ambassador Sajjanhar has been decorated by Governments of Kazakhstan and Latvia with their National Awards and by Universal Peace Federation with Title of ''Ambassador of Peace.'' Currently Ambassador Sajjanhar is President of Institute of Global Studies, New Delhi. He writes, travels and speaks extensively on issues relating to international relations, foreign policy and themes of contemporary relevance and significance. He appears widely on TV panel discussions. Ambassador Sajjanhar is interested in reading, music and travelling. His wife Madhu is an economist and an educationist. They have a son and a daughter both of who are accomplished singers. Their son passed out of Yale University and their daughter is pursuing her PhD at University of Minnesota.