US strives to tune up Central Asia for anti-Russian sanctions

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nCa Analysis

Seems, the USA is working on inducing the economic split between Russia and its Central Asian partners.

“The Central Asian countries have economies largely entwinned with Russia”, acknowledged James O’Brien, who heads the Office of Sanctions Coordination at the US Department of State. The remarks were made during the hearing at the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday.

He cited the case of Kazakhstan, as the country has access to European market which lies through Russia both via its oil pipelines and agricultural exports.

“Many of the [Central Asian] countries have substantial remittances coming from migrants working in Russia and sending money home”, he told.

According to O’Brien, the USA is going to provide Central Asia with options whether that’s physical alternative routes or other ways to develop investment and cash.

He also mentioned the last week C5+1 meeting in New York, which took place on the sidelines of UN General Assembly session.

“Secretary Blinken met with the five foreign ministers of these Central Asian countries and provided them with guidance on how to implement our sanctions”, O’Brien said.

In this light, he also promised that the US and Central Asian countries will have further conversation to detail steps possible to undertaken by those countries.

Moreover, O’Brien expressed his hope that Central Asian nations would “be happy to have alternatives to the relationship that they had with Moscow before”.

There are some evident signs, emerging recently, that the Washington is going to drive a wedge between Central Asia and Russia.

On 14 September, the US House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia and Nonproliferation hosted a hearing on enhancing US engagement in the region.

The testimonies from USAID official and Donald Lu, career diplomat focused on Asian affairs, put at the forefront the key objective to decouple the economies of Central Asia from Russia.

The financial framework is being prepared for these purposes. Near US $ 200 million will be channeled through USAID plus US$ 25 million, promised by Blinken for improving the educational level and export potential in Central Asian countries.

Anyhow, the last US endeavors would challenge the Central Asian countries, traditionally trying to maintain multivector equilibrium in their relations with all super powers.

Nevertheless, the other side political will and readiness at the highest level will be a key indicator, allowing to predict the task success.

After all, the Central Asian leaders will meet with Putin in mid-October in Astana at the three summits, to take place in a row. It will be their second collective meet within a month after SCO summit, apart from bilateral ones. ///nCa, 29 September 2022



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