Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Russia Opposes Rivals in Central Asia

Russia opposes the emergence of new organisations in Central Asia that could rival Russian influence in the region, Interfax reported on Tuesday. Instead, Moscow refers to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as the sole instrument to combat terrorism in Central Asia.

This statement by Boris Gryzlov, speaker of the Russian Duma, indicates Moscow's fears that the US might have a card up its sleeve for a new design to Central Asia. At an SCO parliamentary meeting on Tuesday, Gryzlov reportedly said:

We can tackle the tasks of resisting and fighting terrorism together in the framework of SCO and Russia does not support the establishment of organizations comparable to the SCO in Central Asia. --- The establishment of a parallel entity would be a barrier to cooperation. We don't need pressure or compulsion wherever they may come from.

When asked about the meaning of this, Gryzlov pointed at the US, which he accused of having plans to set up a parallel organisation to the SCO in Central Asia. Apparently, Moscow fears increased US interest in the region, whereas perhaps Washington would not see anything wrong in a little bit of sound competition. However, it is becoming painstakingly clear that the two old partners in the fight against terrorism are rapidly drifting apart in what is becoming a new Great Game in Central Asia.

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