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Russia to build Central Asia’s first nuclear power plant in Uzbekistan


Russia will construct a small nuclear power plant in Uzbekistan, marking the first such project in post-Soviet Central Asia. This announcement was made by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev during a meeting with visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

If realized, this nuclear deal will demonstrate Russia’s capability to export not only energy but also high-tech products to new Asian markets, particularly as Western sanctions against Russia increase.

Putin revealed that Russia will contribute $400 million to a joint investment fund of $500 million to finance projects in Uzbekistan. Mirziyoyev also indicated Tashkent’s interest in purchasing more oil and gas from Russia, reversing a long-standing trend where Moscow imported hydrocarbons from Central Asia.

The Uzbek president called Putin’s visit “historic,” signifying the start of a new era in the comprehensive strategic partnership and alliance between the two countries. Putin also referred to Tashkent as Moscow’s “strategic partner and reliable ally.”

According to documents released by the Kremlin, Russian state nuclear firm Rosatom will build up to six nuclear reactors with a capacity of 55 megawatts each in Uzbekistan. This project is on a smaller scale compared to a previously agreed 2.4-gigawatt project from 2018, which remains unfinalized.

Currently, none of the five ex-Soviet Central Asian republics have nuclear power plants, despite Uzbekistan and its neighbor Kazakhstan, both uranium producers, having long recognized the need for them due to their growing economies. Kazakhstan’s nuclear project can only proceed after a national referendum, which has yet to be scheduled.

“Nearly all the leading countries of the world ensure their energy security and sustainable development with the help of nuclear energy,” Mirziyoyev stated.

Taking advantage of Russia’s strategy to redirect its gas exports to Asia amid tensions with the West over Ukraine, Uzbekistan began importing Russian natural gas last October through a pipeline that previously transported gas in the opposite direction. Despite producing about 50 billion cubic meters of gas annually, Uzbekistan struggles to meet domestic demand, and Russian supplies have helped avoid an energy crisis.

“(Gas) exports are running well ahead of schedule and we are ready to increase their volume if needed,” Putin said. Mirziyoyev added that Tashkent is also eager to increase imports of Russian oil.

The two leaders also noted that their governments are working on large projects in mining, metals, and chemicals.

Uzbekistan, heavily reliant on remittances from migrant workers in Russia, has maintained close ties with Moscow since the invasion of Ukraine in 2022. However, Mirziyoyev and other regional leaders have not publicly supported what the Kremlin refers to as its special military operation in Ukraine. Additionally, these countries are collaborating with the West on initiatives such as cargo shipping routes designed to bypass Russia.


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