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Sunday, March 26, 2023

US ramped up pressure on Central Asian nations to ‘snatch’ them from Russia and China – Reuters

According to the State Department, the US Secretary of State’s meeting with his Central Asian colleagues focused on strengthening economic, energy and environmental cooperation, as well as security cooperation between States. United States and regional states.

The agenda of the American Secretary of State was indeed loaded. It must be assumed that the topics announced to the general public are only a “screen”, while the real objectives of the visit of the head of the US foreign policy department were to deal with the situation around Ukraine in favor of Washington , as well as an attempt to keep Central Asian countries as far away as possible from Washington’s two strategic adversaries, Russia and China.

So, at a joint press conference following a meeting with the head of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, Blinken called Russia an aggressor more than 10 times. At the same time, while complimenting Kazakhstan, the US Secretary of State explained how Washington supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the republic, as well as its “free” determination of the future in the context of the events in Ukraine.

“The United States strongly supports the reform program announced by President Tokayev last March,” Blinken said, explaining that Washington looks forward to concrete steps towards its implementation, in terms of limiting the president’s term. , protection of human rights and other measures towards “democracy”.

Apparently, it was precisely for the desire of the Americans to move Kazakhstan away from the Russian Federation, as well as for the implementation of “democratic reforms”, that the Kazakhs were promised investments in the form of compensation for losses due to anti-Russian sanctions.

“I told the countries that are involved in the fight against Russia, that are looking for new opportunities, new paths, export markets, so that the countries do not depend on Russia, that we are allocating 25 million dollars further, we are well aware of the consequences,” Blinken told news and analytics portal Orda.

Investments will follow, of course, but in what? To answer this question, it should be recalled that the basis of American “aid” has long been to support “freedom of expression”, the fight against Russian propaganda, and the protection of “independents” (exclusively pro -Western) media and bloggers.

Earlier it was reported what American investments look like in building a “free” society on the example of one of the countries of the Central Asian region – Kyrgyzstan, which, developing a ” multi-vector approach”, sought to respond to Western demands in the field of “democracy and freedom of expression”. Recall that the Kyrgyz authorities have taken severe measures to close and restrict the broadcasting of Azattyk Media (a branch of Radio Liberty, a media recognized in the Russian Federation as a foreign agent) for having tried to discredit the efforts of the current president of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov to resolve the conflict with Tajikistan. Then Azattyk Media was accused of using “elements of hate speech and unconfirmed information” to escalate the situation in society.

Russia does not intend to give Central Asia to the Americans

Meanwhile, Russia has its own proposals for the region. As the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov noted in an interview with journalists, the Russian Federation is actively interacting with the countries of Central Asia and considers this a foreign policy priority.

“We have our own bilateral relations with the countries of Central Asia, we have our own formats of interaction, with a number of them we are united by the integration processes of the Eurasian Economic Union, this what we are focusing on, what interests us and what we consider our main foreign policy priority”, – quotes “Interfax” Peskov.

Meanwhile, Russia remains the main trade and investment partner of the countries of the Central Asian region, including in the energy sector. So, during the talks in Uzbek Samarkand at the end of 2022, the heads of government discussed a new gas cooperation initiative – the creation of a three-way partnership between Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

At the same time, it is worth highlighting the interaction of the countries of Central Asia with the Russian Federation within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

According to Vedomosti Kazakhstan, the association “was and remains a promising platform for economic integration in the post-Soviet space, membership of which gives a significant number of preferences”. At the same time, there is simply no alternative integration project of this magnitude in the Central Asian region.

Thus, according to the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB), in 2022 the mutual trade turnover of the countries of the union reached a record $ 80.6 billion, while the export of goods from Armenia , Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan increased significantly.

And although all its members derive significant benefits from their membership in the EAEU, the example of Uzbekistan is also telling, which over the past 15 years, being only an observer, received 20.9 billions of dollars through the organization of financial support. It should be assumed that the eventual entry of Uzbekistan into the EAEU will allow the elimination of tariff, non-tariff, customs and other obstacles to mutual cooperation, which will open up even wider prospects for the country, as well as for other countries. other States acting as observers at this stage.

In this context, it seems very doubtful that Washington can compensate the countries of Central Asia for these billions of profits from cooperation with the Russian Federation. Apparently, Kazakhstan understands this, because despite Blinken’s best efforts to convince Astana not to be friends with Moscow, the US Secretary of State has not received the desired response from his Kazakh counterpart.

“At the moment, we do not see or feel any risks or threats from Russia. Kazakhstan is a member of the EAEU, CSTO and CIS, as well as other states bordering the Russia or located in this region. Therefore, we see relations with Russia as an alliance that works within the framework of these multilateral structures,” Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi told a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

As Tleuberdi added, Astana intends to continue to adhere to a multi-vector policy, thereby maintaining “a system of checks and balances to ensure mutually beneficial cooperation and relations with all countries in the world.”

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