French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Kazakhstan on Wednesday on the primary leg of a visit to Central Asia, a area lengthy thought to be Russia’s yard which has drawn recent Western consideration for the reason that conflict in Ukraine started.
Oil-rich Kazakhstan has already emerged as a substitute provider of crude to European nations turning off Russian provide and an vital hyperlink within the new China-Europe commerce route bypassing Russia.
At a gathering with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Macron complimented Kazakhstan for refusing to aspect with Moscow on Ukraine and mentioned the 2 nations signed enterprise offers, together with a declaration of intent for a partnership within the much-sought space of uncommon earths and uncommon metals.
Russia has voiced concern on the West’s rising diplomatic exercise in former Soviet Central Asian nations. Overseas Minister Sergei Lavrov mentioned final week the West was making an attempt to drag Russia’s “neighbours, mates and allies” away from it.
“I don’t underestimate by any means the geopolitical difficulties, the pressures … that some could also be placing on you,” Macron instructed Tokayev.
“France values … the trail you’re following in your nation, refusing to be a vassal of any energy and searching for to construct quite a few and balanced relations with totally different nations within the curiosity of your individuals. Such a philosophy is near France.”
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the place Macron goes subsequent, have refused to recognise Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territories and have pledged to abide by Western sanctions in opposition to Moscow, whereas calling each Russia and Western nations resembling France their strategic companions.
“We respect our mates, we’re right here once they want us and we respect their independence,” Macron mentioned. “And in a world the place main powers need to change into hegemons, and the place regional powers change into unpredictable, it’s good to have mates who share this philosophy.”
Along with oil, Kazakhstan is a serious exporter of uranium, and France’s Orano already operates a three way partnership with its state nuclear agency Kazatomprom.
“We are able to name your go to historic, essential,” Tokayev instructed Macron.