Moscow and Tashkent have stepped up their cooperation by launching an important energy project, Izvestia writes. During the Russian president’s state visit to Uzbekistan, both heads of state Vladimir Putin and Shavkat Mirziyoyev attended the first forum of regions, and launched a project to build the first nuclear power plant in the Central Asian republic. The parties also signed an agreement on cooperation in the social sphere. Russian Labor Minister Maxim Topilin told the paper that the countries might also sign an intergovernmental pension accord.

“After the leadership in Uzbekistan had changed, a drastic adjustment of approaches to foreign policy occurred. Tashkent started fostering ties with Russia and Vladimir Putin’s current visit cements many areas of cooperation,” Azhdar Kurtov, a political analyst and expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, told the paper.

From a geopolitical viewpoint, the Russian leader’s visit opened a window of opportunities for extending a partnership with Uzbekistan, relations with whom were worse two years ago, according to Andrey Grozin, an expert on Central Asia at the Institute of CIS countries.

“Russia used to have one strategic partner in the region – Kazakhstan. Now the possibility is opening up for a second center to emerge. The fact that the first Russian nuclear power plant in Central Asia is being built in Uzbekistan is clear evidence that our relations are flourishing,” the expert noted.

“Unlike the United States and China, Russia may give Uzbekistan what it needs to modernize its industry – Russian technologies,” Kurtov emphasized. “Creating new production facilities on Uzbekistan’s soil is what Russia is doing now,” he pointed out.