Russia to Build Central Asia’s First Nuclear Power Plant in Uzbekistan: Putin

Mon May 27 2024
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TASHKENT: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to build a small nuclear power plant in Uzbekistan, the first such project in post-Soviet Central Asia. The announcement came during Putin’s meeting with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in Tashkent on Monday, signaling a deepening of ties between the two nations.
President Mirziyoyev expressed enthusiasm for the nuclear deal, emphasizing its potential to showcase Russia’s capacity to export not only energy but also advanced technological products to emerging Asian markets. The project assumes added significance against the backdrop of increasing Western pressure on Russia through sanctions.
Under the agreement, Russia will invest $400 million into a joint investment fund totaling $500 million to finance various projects in Uzbekistan. Mirziyoyev also highlighted Uzbekistan’s interest in bolstering its oil and gas imports from Russia, marking a departure from the longstanding practice of Moscow importing hydrocarbons from Central Asia.
Describing Putin’s visit as “historic,” Mirziyoyev underscored its significance in ushering in a new era of comprehensive strategic partnership and alliance relations between the two countries. “It heralds the beginning of a new age in the comprehensive strategic partnership and alliance relations between our countries,” he said.
Putin reciprocated, characterizing Tashkent as Moscow’s “strategic partner and reliable ally.” Putin said that Moscow would significantly boost gas deliveries to Uzbekistan.
According to documents released by the Kremlin, Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom will construct up to six nuclear reactors with a capacity of 55 megawatts each in Uzbekistan. This initiative represents a smaller-scale project compared to a previously agreed-upon 2.4-gigawatt endeavor in 2018, which is still pending finalization.
Despite being uranium producers, none of the five ex-Soviet Central Asian republics currently have nuclear power plants. However, both Uzbekistan and neighboring Kazakhstan have long asserted the necessity of nuclear energy to support their growing economies.
The Kazakh project, however, can only move ahead after a national referendum which has not yet been scheduled. “Nearly all the leading countries of the world ensure their energy security and sustainable development with the help of nuclear energy,” Mirziyoyev said.
Putin’s visit also saw discussions on enhancing cooperation in other sectors such as mining, metals, and chemicals. Uzbekistan, heavily reliant on remittances from migrant laborers working in Russia, has maintained close ties with Moscow following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
Russia, as a major producer of fossil fuels, plays a pivotal role in addressing energy shortfalls in neighboring countries despite their own gas and oil resources. During discussions with Mirziyoyev in Tashkent, Putin revealed plans to increase gas volumes to Uzbekistan to 11 billion cubic meters next year.
Gas deliveries, facilitated through a pipeline traversing Kazakhstan, are set to reach 3.8 billion cubic meters this year, following the launch of the project in 2023. The pipeline, established during the Soviet era, underscores the historical ties between Russia and its Central Asian neighbors in energy cooperation.

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Facing Western sanctions, Moscow has sought alternative avenues for its oil and gas exports, intensifying efforts to bolster economic partnerships with regional allies.
Similar discussions are underway with other Central Asian countries, including Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, as Russia aims to expand its influence and solidify economic partnerships in the region.

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