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Moscow, Tashkent and other
Material posted: Pankratenko Igor N.Publication date: 22-10-2018
No more optimistic, life-affirming read than the official reports on the state of Russian-Uzbek relations. If columns of numbers trade statistics that consistently with a plus sign, if the list of signed documents – each of them, of course, "essential". It only remains closer to deepen, lightly expanding, and ahead of Moscow and Tashkent only the peaks of cooperation and continuous joy from interaction.

In this situation, the upcoming meeting between Vladimir Putin and Shavkat Mirziyoev – just a little celebration of some sort, equally joyful for both. What? Presidents master's eye once again check the implementation of the Agreement on strategic partnership of 2004 and the Treaty on allied relations in 2005, will give appropriate instructions to "Sherpas" from the ministries and departments to address the deficiencies. And then – the solemn ceremony of launching the construction Tudakul NPP, a discussion of the bright prospects and new projects, smiles and applause.

If relations between Russia and Uzbekistan exist in a vacuum, if in the international arena and the former Soviet Union a new to Tashkent and Moscow challenges and threats, it is possible that the above picture of the visit looked a lot like that. But it does not happen. And that the Russian, the Uzbek side now found themselves in a difficult situation. They still need each other, they are still interested in the partnership, and it is quite obvious.

But perceptions of the degree of necessity and the new format of this partnership, given what happened in the world and the former Soviet Union, serious changes have yet to be elaborated.

The diplomatic activity of Moscow in the Central Asian direction in recent months was by and large only one – figuring out how the States of the region reacted to the escalation of the conflict between Russia and the conditional "West", the US and Europe. And, accordingly, how they will behave in the future.

Frankly, to conduct a kind of audit of their real, not self-proclaimed status in the region, Moscow had much earlier, but whether all the "hands did not reach", or the belief that everything in there under control was absolute. In the end, alarm bells coming from Central Asia, are simply ignored.

Strange, to put it mildly, view of the region as the "backyard", the guarantor of political and military stability which Russia will remain continuously, totally did not consider one circumstance – Tashkent, Astana, Bishkek, Dushanbe, and Ashgabat had his own vision of ways of its further development. In many respects significantly different from how it was seen in Moscow.

Hence inevitably followed that in the capitals of Central Asian republics absolutely did not and do not feel obliged to remain loyal against all the very steps that have made Moscow's foreign policy. And especially not eager to take the side of Russia in its conflict with the West. Attitude was extremely pragmatic. Sounding sometimes in the Russian expert circles the criticism of this approach just doesn't make sense, but also generates Frank bewilderment. "Pragmatism" has long been declared by Moscow as the cornerstone of its foreign policy. But when this principle is applied in respect to itself it is viewed with some bewilderment and even resentment: "But to us, he says, for what?"

Actually, this is the same gradually the gap of the previous format of relations of Russia with Central Asia, clearly observed in the dialog between Moscow and Tashkent – polite, but firm and constant reminder by the Uzbek authorities and Russian representatives, that, firstly, the division into senior and Junior are gone. And secondly, the bilateral partnership is based including on how exclusive and competitive offers, one side does the other.

Even for well-informed specialists in the region of the diplomatic activity that over a year has demonstrated Tashkent in the international arena, it seems unusual, clearly fall outside the normal framework.

Take – with almost unanimous approval by Washington, Beijing, new Delhi and Islamabad – a key position in the negotiations on the Afghan settlement, seriously to interest himself in the leading players on the international stage, promising to sign agreements with Ankara and Paris – the list goes on. While avoiding any major political obstacles in the way of commitment, if anything happens, to take someone's specific direction. It's aerobatics in diplomacy.

But the main achievement Mirziyoyev are still not these agreements and the fact that he managed through the creation of "portfolio competition" seeking for a variety of reasons to increase relations with Tashkent, and to maintain a balance between them, and provide control over their competition in partnership with the "star of the East".

China, South Korea, Turkey, India, and now France has got a road map to expand its presence in the economy of Uzbekistan. Moreover, Tashkent has retained the opportunity to adjust their efforts in the direction that you want it. This is definitely good news for the Uzbek side. But whether that is true for Moscow, traditionally slightly late for the distribution of new possibilities, is the big question.

When in April of this year during visit to Russia Shavkat Mirziyoev said that "Russia for Uzbekistan is a reliable and trusted life itself as a strategic partner," he was quite sincere. The Alliance with Moscow is one of the most important components of foreign policy balance, which tries to maintain Tashkent.

But the problem for Russia lies not in the fact that niches for trade and economic partnership with Uzbekistan narrowed. In fact, of the major projects now makes sense to talk only about energy cooperation-the construction of nuclear power plants and the launch in April of this year Kandym gas processing plant in Bukhara region (LUKOIL), as well as the start of construction of the Jizzakh refinery.

And not even the fact that in Tashkent now seriously concerned how they can affect Russian-Uzbek projects U.S. sanctions, as proclaimed on the idea that "the SCO can become a shield" from them, while only causing confusion.

The main problem is that Moscow – in the economy, and in military-technical sphere, though here is how time with it so far, pretty safely – for the status of a strategic partner of Tashkent will participate in the competition. And the competition is not the strongest place to put it mildly.

"Exclusive partnership" that from the Uzbek side expects Moscow, requires as exclusive a counter offer. With which the Russian side has obvious problems – no membership in the EAEC, nor any "deepening of partnership" with the CSTO Tashkent uninteresting from the word "quite". Safety is a traditional Russian product, Moscow actively promoted in the region for many years – now not as popular as it was before. Furthermore, her persistent offer by Russia to cause some caution in Central Asian capitals.

Moreover, the Tashkent he began production of this security in relations with neighbors and the Afghan question. Yes, with active involvement of external players, Yes, in some ways replacing the existing previously diagrams, but quite independently, more energetic, and entering into the taste. Carefully respecting their interests.

All this is the need to compete with others for the right to the exclusive partnership, the increased weight of Tashkent in the region and internationally – is the new reality of Russian-Uzbek relations, which requires a new format of dialogue between the two countries. And the sooner it is found, the less misunderstandings and disappointments awaiting the Tashkent and Moscow in the future.

Pankratenko I. N.


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