TASHKENT (Reuters) – Uzbekistan, a Central Asian republic with close ties to Russia, called on Thursday for a diplomatic resolution of the conflict in Ukraine and said it would not recognise Moscow-backed separatist statelets there.
In the strongest anti-war statement to come from Russia’s former Soviet allies so far, Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov told parliament that while Tashkent wanted to maintain good relations with both Moscow and Kyiv, it opposed the war.
“First, Uzbekistan is seriously concerned by the situation around Ukraine,” he said.
“Second, we are the proponents of finding a peaceful solution to this situation and resolving the conflict through political and diplomatic means. But in order to do that, first of all, hostilities and violence must stop immediately.”
Uzbekistan’s economy relies heavily on exports to Russia as well as remittances from Uzbeks working in Russia. It became an observer in a Russia-led economic bloc in 2020, although it has stayed out of a similar post-Soviet military bloc.
None of Russia’s other Central Asian allies that were in the old Moscow-dominated Soviet Union has backed the invasion either, although they have been less straightforward in speaking against it.
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said last week “all countries must strictly adhere to the norms and principles of the charter of the United Nations” and “new diplomatic opportunities must be sought to resolve the conflict situation peacefully”.
Both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have said they would provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
(Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Mark Heinrich)