Russia forges stronger ties with Uzbekistan

Remember the days when the likes of Craig Murray were claiming that:

As seen from Tashkent, US policy is not much focussed on democracy or freedom. It is about oil, gas and hegemony. In Uzbekistan the US pursues those ends through supporting a ruthless dictatorship. We must not close our eyes to uncomfortable truth.

Even as late as May 2005 he was claiming:

… US firms were contracted to build a pipeline to bring central Asia’s hydrocarbons out through Afghanistan to the Arabian sea. That strategic interest explains the recent signature of the US-Afghan strategic partnership agreement, as well as Bush’s strong support for Karimov.

Well, it was bollocks then and is bollocks now, especially given that the US subsequently reduced the amount of foreign aid to Uzbekistan, became openly critical of the Karimov regime to the extent the US was ordered to leave, and no move by a major US company or US government official was ever made on the Uzbek oil and gas market, including the building of pipelines.

So I wonder if Murray and his ilk are going to change the record, go strangely silent, or simply ignore current events and continue to lambast the US in light of recent developments concerning Uzbekistan:

Gazprom boss Alexei Miller will travel to Uzbekistan today to try to gain control of the country’s biggest gas fields in return for Moscow’s political support, according to Russian media reports.

In a report published today, Moscow-based financial daily Kommersant newspaper said Miller planned to secure control of the Ugra, Kuanysh and Akchalaksky fields, which would triple Gazprom’s imports from Uzbekistan from 5 billion to 6 billion cubic metres per year to 17 Bcm to 18 Bcm annually.

Kommersant added that the move, should it go ahead, would give the Russian gas giant a de facto monopoly on gas exports from the Central Asian state.

In return for the gas reserves, Russia would help Uzbekistan to deal with anti-government protests and protect it from the West, Kommersant said.

Given that Murray’s concern seems to lie primarily with promoting himself and scoring points against Western governments rather than helping the situation in Uzbekistan, I can’t see Russia being pilloried for this move.


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