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Russia Seals Nuclear Power and Gas Deal with Uzbekistan

During a visit to Uzbekistan on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly agreed to a deal to build the first Central Asian nuclear power plant in history with Russian state-run Rosatom, Reuters reports, in a move likely designed to showcase Moscow’s adaptability under sanctions. 

Domestic Russian-language and international media reported on Monday that Putin had committed $400 million to a $500-million joint investment fund in Uzbekistan, which prompted Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to refer to the visit as heralding “the beginning of a new age in the comprehensive strategic partnership and alliance relations between our countries”, as reported by Reuters. 

Kremlin documents cited by Reuters indicate that Rosatom is planning to build six nuclear reactors in Uzbekistan, targeting 55 megawatts each. 

The new nuclear project, which, if pursued, would represent the first-ever nuclear power project in Central Asia, is smaller than a previous project agreed upon in 2018, according to Reuters, but which has not been finalized. 

Both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are home to uranium deposits, making them prime ground for nuclear energy projects. 

Nor is it just nuclear energy Uzbekistan is now interested in from Russia. Mirziyoyev also reportedly expressed interest in Russian gas imports, which Putin obliged with a pledge to significantly increase gas exports to the Central Asian nation. 

Putin reportedly said during the meeting in Tashkent that work was “under way” to significantly raise gas export volumes to Uzbekistan to 11 billion cubic meters in 2025, Baron’s reported. 

Russian gas makes its way to Uzbekistan via a pipeline in Kazakhstan that began operations last year, with an expected 2024 capacity of 3.8 billion cubic meters. 

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With its energy products cut out of European markets, Moscow has been reinvigorating energy and technology relations with Asian nations, beginning in its former Soviet satellite backyard, Central Asia. 

By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com 

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