Uzbekistan’s desire to keep the Kremlin at bay appears to influence its participation in the Northern Distribution Network, a major supply line for the Afghan war effort.
Diplomatic cables prepared by the US Embassy in Tashkent in 2009, and released by Wikileaks, suggest Uzbek President Islam Karimov’s administration was eager to use the NDN to demonstrate the Central Asian nation’s independence from Russia. One cable revealed that on the eve of a December 2009 visit to Tashkent by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Uzbek officials reached out to the United States, offering to make an airfield outside the border city of Termez available to American military planes.
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Deirdre Tynan is a Bishkek-based reporter specializing in Central Asian affairs.