From January 30 to February 3, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo toured a number of post-Soviet countries. Over the five days, he paid a working visit to Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. It is noteworthy that the American State Department head chose countries of the post-Soviet space for his first major foreign tour this year. Thus, Mike Pompeo demonstrated Washington's decisive turn towards Moscow's closest allies. Putting Ukraine to the side, of course.
In particular, the US diplomacy chief's talks in Minsk, Nur-Sultan and Tashkent clearly showed that pursuant to Ukraine, Washington is trying to tear off the former Soviet republics from Russia that are part of its strategic interests. Although the American press claims that the US in no way intends to interfere in Russia's post-Soviet policy, Mike Pompeo's just-completed visit to Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan has starkly illustrated that this is not the case.
It is worth noting that during this tour, Pompeo has been accepted at the highest level. In Kiev, he met with President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky; in Minsk, the Secretary of State held talks with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko; in Nur-Sultan - with the first President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and the current head of state Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. In Tashkent, Pompeo had a meeting with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Besides, the US Secretary of State took part in a ministerial meeting in the "Central Asia-USA" format ("C5+1" involves Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the United States).
During Mike Pompeo's tour of the post-Soviet countries, conspicuous is the fact that while meeting with the leaders of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, he tried to refrain from unkind cuts on Russia. The head of American diplomacy made it clear that the United States does not want to present the former Soviet republics with a stark choice between Moscow and Washington. At the same time, his meetings and negotiations explicitly suggested that the Americans would very much like to change the post-Soviet countries' course towards America.
Apparently, with this objective in view, Washington intends to significantly revive political and business cooperation with the CIS countries, primarily by increasing the flow of American investments to the region, which implies that its countries scout Russian and Chinese investments in their economies. Pompeo did not hesitate to make various promises during his visit. So, in Kiev, he said that the United States was and remains Ukraine's key ally in protecting its sovereignty. In Minsk, he promised to utterly provide Belarus with oil, i.e. to make it halt supplies from Russia. In Nur-Sultan, the Secretary of State touched upon establishing through air service between Kazakhstan and the United States, and suggested expanding cooperation in the energy sector.
At the talks in Tashkent, Pompeo demonstrated Washington's continued interest in developing relations with Uzbekistan. By the way, the United States does not conceal that its particular interest in this country is brought about by the largest Central Asian republic's economic potential, strategic location, as well as Tashkent's long-term emphasized desire to keep a certain distance from the main integration associations in the post-Soviet space involving Moscow. It is instructive to recall that in 2012, Uzbekistan officially suspended its membership in the CSTO, which was actually established in Tashkent in 1992 and originally named the Tashkent Pact.
It would be naive to assume that Moscow does not realize Washington's new strategy being aimed at alienating the Central Asian states from Russia and China and involving them in US-supervised regional security and energy projects, primarily in the Afghan direction. It is no accident that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, long before Mike Pompeo's current visit to Tashkent, gave a negative assessment of US performance in the region, saying its true goal was to turn all the projects involving Central Asia southwards, towards Afghanistan, but without the participation of the Russian Federation.
However, despite Washington's stepped-up action in the area of Russia's strategic interests in the post-Soviet space earlier this year, Moscow preserves considerable opportunities for reciprocal moves. For instance, the Russian side became known to be planning to hold its "5+1" talks with Central Asian countries this year. Moreover, Moscow intends to continue strengthening security ties within the CSTO, where it will try to return Uzbekistan, even if not a full-fledged return, but at least the involvement of Tashkent in this organization's activities. Also, Moscow has sizeable plans for economic integration in the region.
Hence, US plans to invade the post Soviet space and take the upper hand there may be merely plans...