A growing number of countries in Russia’s sphere of influence are pushing back against Moscow in the wake of the Kremlin’s weakening in the Ukraine war. This shift is an opportunity for the United States to expand its presence in regions that long have been deep inside the Russian orbit. Key among Central Asian countries is Uzbekistan, which is also undergoing a significant domestic transformation and reform. The United States is the only one that can help Tashkent — and by extension the region — navigate its way to security and stability, and offset Russia’s and China’s aspirations to become dominant powers in the heart of Eurasia.
On Dec. 8, Uzbekistan rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Nov. 28 proposal of creating a “natural gas union” with Russia and Kazakhstan. Uzbekistan’s Energy Minister Jorabek Mirzamahmudov said that his country would not give up its national interests in exchange for natural gas. He said: “Even if a gas agreement is concluded with Russia, this does not mean a union.”
Countries like Uzbekistan are taking risks against Russia, but the United States is only focused on the crisis at hand in Ukraine and not strategically viewing the broader Russian and Chinese spheres of influence.
Read more in The Hill.