Russia tried to get the gas transportation systems of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan under the pretext of a “gas union” with these countries, Gazeta.uz writes, citing a number of sources.
According to them, andInitially, Moscow offered to supply its gas in reverse order through Kazakhstan via the Central Asia-Center pipeline. “The main condition of the Russian side was the transfer of the gas transmission system of Uzbekistan to the ownership of Gazprom at market value. Similar demands were put forward by the National Company Kazakgaz, which did not agree to such conditions, ”the newspaper notes.
Sources say that in addition to this, Russia demanded “to cede the rights to export gas to China”, that is, Gazprom was to become a party to the agreement instead of the Uzbek company UzGazTrade. In December, both of these conditions “managed to be removed” as a result of bilateral negotiations.
At the same time, the countries agreed to hold additional meetings to assess the technical feasibility of gas supplies. However, the interlocutors consider it unlikely, since the scale of the necessary work requires significant amounts of funding.
The proposal to create a “gas union” was made by Russian President Vladimir Putin after the country lost the European market due to the war in Ukraine. The idea was to increase the supply of Russian gas to China through the territory of the Central Asian republics of the former USSR. Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Alexander Novak said that Russia sees “great opportunities” in an alliance with the Central Asian countries, since it, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan “has actually a single gas transportation system since Soviet times.”
However, neither Astana nor Tashkent supported the proposal. The authorities of Kazakhstan saw in the project “sanction risks” and attempts to use the country’s territory to circumvent Western restrictions. Uzbek Energy Minister Zhurabek Mirzamakhmudov stated in plain text that Russia had set a number of “political conditions” in exchange for a “gas union”, and noted that the republic would “never agree” to this. According to the minister, Uzbekistan will buy fuel only at favorable prices and contract terms.
After that, the Kremlin was quick to deny that Moscow was trying to manipulate its potential partners. As Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov assured, the union does not imply the supply of gas in exchange for political conditions – it is about coordinating actions in the commercial interests of all three states.