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Tokayev, Putin Discuss Creating ‘Trilateral Gas Union’ Involving Uzbekistan

By Vusala Abbasova November 29, 2022

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Both Russia and Kazakhstan are flush in natural resources like oil and gas, and the two post-Soviet countries have maintained strong partnerships in the energy sector through already existing close economic, technological and transportation initiatives.

Energy relations between the two Caspian countries, namely Russia and Kazakhstan, were put under the spotlight on Monday during Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

According to Kazakh presidential press secretary Ruslan Zheldibay, the two leaders discussed a possible “gas union” that will encompass Kazakhstan, Russia and Uzbekistan.

“During negotiations in the Kremlin between the presidents of Kazakhstan and Russia, the creation of a ‘trilateral gas union’ consisting of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan was discussed in order to coordinate actions for the transportation of Russian gas through the territories of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan,” Zheldibay said on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

He went further to say that the leaders expressed the need to “hold detailed negotiations, with the participation of experts from the three countries, to find a rational solution to this issue, taking into account the interests of all parties.”

Yet, details of the plan have not been disclosed.

Commenting on the project initiated by the Russian leader, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that it envisages the creation of a coordination mechanism and the development of gas consumption and transportation infrastructure for both domestic and foreign markets.

“What President Putin has in mind is the creation of a coordination mechanism at the first stage,” Peskov said on Tuesday. “Maybe – this is still to be discussed – with some kind of legal entity both for cooperation between these three countries, and for developing infrastructure for foreign markets.”

Both Russia and Kazakhstan are flush in natural resources like oil and gas, and the two post-Soviet countries have maintained strong partnerships in the energy sector through already existing close economic, technological and transportation initiatives.

However, relations between the close allies spiralled down after President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev made it clear that Kazakhstan has no intentions to recognize the independence of the so-called Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Kazakhstan also did not assist Russia in circumventing sanctions, prompting aggressive rhetoric by certain Russian politicians.

Meanwhile, Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who made his first foreign visit to Russia after being elected to a new term on November 20, said his choice to visit Moscow was symbolic.

“This is my first foreign visit after this event and that in itself has political significance and, of course, a certain symbolism,” Tokayev said, sitting next to Putin ahead of talks. “For Kazakhstan, Russia is and has always been a strategic partner.”

The sides confirmed the intention to further strengthen the strategic partnership and alliance between the two countries and signed a declaration marking 30 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations, both formerly joined under the Soviet Union until its 1991 collapse. The 37-point document stipulates efforts to deepen bilateral cooperation in the fields of politics, economy, defence, culture, education, health, youth and sports.