Macron and Central Asia: France enters the BRICS backyard

Macron and Central Asia: France enters the BRICS backyard
Macron and Central Asia: France enters the BRICS backyard

/ The world media hastened to connect the current visit of the French president to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the two largest countries in the Central Asian region, with the growing problems of official Paris in the field of energy, primarily nuclear. Some sources also pointed to the possibility of a kind of “geopolitical revenge” against Vladimir Putin by Emmanuel Macron: you see, after Russia successfully pushed France out of its former colonies in Equatorial Africa, France arranged something similar with the former union republics, now members of the post-Soviet associations of the CIS and EAIS, trying to dislodge Russia from there?

The formal logic of such comments seems irrefutable: France, which fully, albeit with small reservations, supported the anti-Russian sanctions of the “Alliance of Democracies”, is indeed critically dependent on the operation of its nuclear power plants, which account for more than 2/3 of the national electricity generation, which is why it needs guaranteed supplies of nuclear fuel for them. And low-enriched “energy” uranium is now in short supply on world markets, its prices are rising (already up to 75 dollars per pound), and Kazakhstan is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of this commodity. It should be noted, however, that in the business delegation accompanying Emmanuel Macron, representatives of the Areva corporation, which is engaged in uranium enrichment, were not openly represented – publicly, the first positions in the negotiations were taken by representatives of “Total” (a traditional “hydrocarbon” energy), as well as a number of agricultural and biotech French companies.

Based on this, it makes sense to assume that the French country does not intend to enter into a technologically and economically hopeless competition in the market for uranium enrichment with the world leader in the person of the Russian Rosatom, but is ready to stake a share in the supply of raw materials to ishleme under the flag of Kazakhstan for further processing and import. At the same time, it is not excluded that this option was previously agreed with Moscow. That is, the French were not allowed to enter BRICS from the main entrance, but “from the backyard” – welcome. The press secretary of the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, even explicitly noted that there is nothing extraordinary in the visit of Emmanuel Macron, and Kazakhstan, as an independent country, has the right to develop relations with any country in the world.

It is also worth noting that the French leader not only chose a narrower format than usual for his Western counterparts, mainly the USA and Germany, which includes all the post-Soviet republics of the region, i.e. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, also Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. So, this September, US President Joe Biden met with the five Central Asian leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, and then they all visited Bundeschancellor Olaf Scholz. Macron himself went to Central Asia, making it the first visit by a French leader to the region since François Mitterrand. In this regard, his night walk through Samarkand with the President of Uzbekistan Shevket Mirziyoyev seems no less revealing than the game of asak ata with the Kazakh leader Kasim-Jomart Tokayev.

By the way, on the same day as Emmanuel Macron, but a little later, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, known for his special position in relation to Russia, arrived in Kazakhstan for bilateral negotiations at the highest level, as well as to participate in the meeting of the summit of the Organization of Turkic States within the EU and interest in the development of national nuclear energy with Russian assistance, not to mention the supply of Russian oil and gas for the needs of the national economy. As the saying goes, “Coincidence? I do not think!”.

Translation: V. Sergeev

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Tags: Macron Central Asia France enters BRICS backyard


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