Attack on Ukraine: Tashkent distances itself from Moscow
The Uzbek government stands for Ukrainian independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity: it does not recognise the Kremlin's puppet republics in the Donbass. Western sanctions against Putin are also having an effect in Uzbekistan. Many Uzbek migrants are fleeing Russia and returning home, followed by many Russian citizens.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - Uzbekistan is the only Central Asian country to have condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In a very explicit speech to the plenary assembly of the National Senate (Olij Mažlis), Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov said that the government's position is "for an immediate cessation of hostilities and violence, and the search for a peaceful solution through political and diplomatic channels".
Kamilov recalled that "Uzbekistan historically maintains all-round relations with both Russia and Ukraine", which are intended to be maintained in the future as well, based on national interests. The Russian Federation is the country's main economic partner, with which it shares strategic dimensions and broad cooperation, even though Uzbekistan is not a member of the Csto, the military grouping formed by Russia and some former Soviet republics. Cooperation with Ukraine is also important for the Uzbeks, on a commercial, cultural, educational and agricultural level, Kamilov stressed.
Uzbekistan intends to continue offering humanitarian aid to Ukraine, "whose independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity we recognise, and we do not recognise Lugansk and Donetsk as people's republics," the minister pointed out. Ukraine's ambassador in Tashkent, Mikola Dorošenko, expressed Kiev's thanks for Uzbek support.
Uzbekistan has no intention "to join any political-military bloc, in accordance with our foreign policy concept, and our military will not be involved in conflicts outside our borders, as stated in the law passed by our parliament", Kamilov explained.
The Uzbek minister also noted that the Western sanctions against Russia produce heavy consequences for Uzbekistan as well, and it will be necessary "to make efforts to compensate for these negative effects". As the president of the Uzbek Central Bank, Mamarizo Nurmuratov, said, the volume of money transfers from Russia had fallen sharply in March: the collapse of the rouble and great uncertainty about the future are leading the many Uzbek migrants in Russia to hold on to their money in order not to disperse it. Uzbek banking standards are expected to change in relation to foreign currencies. In 2021 migrants paid over billion in remittances to Uzbekistan, which is expected to fall by over 20% this year.
Real estate costs are also rising sharply, and rents in Tashkent are becoming prohibitive, again as a result of the devaluation of the rouble, as well as the two-year pandemic. Many migrants flee Russia in order not to get involved in the Ukrainian conflict, but find it difficult to reintegrate into Uzbekistan, both at work and in their homes. Together with them, many Russians have also arrived in the country, leaving their homeland because of the discomfort created by the war, branded by Putin himself as "irredeemable traitors". Many of them are IT specialists, so much so that the Uzbek Ministry of the Interior has prepared a special entry visa called "IT-Viza" expressly for them, trusting in a significant contribution to the modernisation of the economy and society in Uzbekistan.