Although, unlike the last war of 1812 with France, Russia and Britain were never openly at war with each other, the scale of the geopolitical confrontation between these two European states and Moscow has long existed and is constantly growing. Especially against the background of the current leaders of these two countries’ servile submission to the Russophobic policies of the White House. And one of the hottest points of clash of interests has been Central Asia (CA).
Britain’s aggressive attitude towards Russia was clearly manifested in the 16th century, when the British tried to bring the Moscow kingdom under their economic interests and find a mainland route to the riches of India through it. This, however, did not work out for London, and so they had to build a sea route to India. Having established itself in Central Asia before Russia, Britain quickly enough began to extract rich dividends from its Asian colonies, covering, in particular, the deficit resulting from export-import operations with American and European companies through trade with India and China.
Initiated by London, the Russo-Persian War of 1826-1828 was an attempt to slow down Russia’s advance to the south, but the defeat of Persia only helped consolidate Russia in the Middle East, undermining Britain’s position there.
The first Afghan war which ended ingloriously for the British crown, in which it lost more than 5 thousand soldiers and about 25 million pounds, as well as the Russian conquest of Central Asia, accelerated since the 1850s, allowed Moscow through successful campaigns to subdue the Kokand, Bukhara and Khiva khanates to the great indignation of London.
The beginning of the twentieth century once again pitted British and Russian interests against each other. Britain, however, having ceded its status as the world’s leading power to the United States, and after becoming the latter’s chief viceroy in Europe, continued its confrontation with Russia. Although today it is not the same country it was 200 years ago, and it now has neither India nor an official reason to get involved in Asia, still, London’s Asian aspirations haven’t faded.
Today it’s no secret that Britain’s intelligence has a serious influence on Turkey and is trying to oust Russia from Asia, which was proved by the visit of Richard Moore, head of MI6, to Ankara right after the end of the second Karabakh war. keep in mind that London provoked Turkey against Russia and openly supported it by entering the Crimean War in 1853-1856, and then in the war of 1877-1878 by giving it money, weapons and instructors.
It is clear that Britain is unlikely to engage Russia openly today, since the current British army is not what it was when Britain “ruled the waves” and could afford to “fight Russia.” Nevertheless, London’s unsuccessful desire since the 19th century to “tame,” especially through the hands of others, Russia, whose actions in Central Asia seem to threaten the countries of the “British imperial dominion” in the Near and Middle East, has long literally become an obsession in Britain. At every opportunity, official London tries to demonstrate its anti-Russian démarches, foments hostile hysteria and propaganda clamor in the media, and meanwhile, under their cover, carries out a large-scale intervention in Central Asia. In particular, it is trying to prevent the spread of not only Russian but also Chinese influence in the region, to cut off access of their goods to traditional markets, and to take control of transit trade of Moscow and Beijing with countries of the Near and Middle East through the Caspian and Aral Sea region.
For Britain, Central Asia has long been an area of strategic interest, not only because of the region’s significant mineral reserves, but also because of its geostrategic position as a bridge between Europe and Southeast Asia. Besides, it is necessary to remember that in autumn of 2005 the American and British intelligence gathered the forces of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU, banned in Russia) in the province of Kunduz with the purpose of staging an attack on the southern regions of Kyrgyzstan but the action never took place.
Since Richard Moore became the chief of British intelligence, there has already been a notable activation of British intelligence services in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, along with a strengthening of pan-Turkic organizations and controlled Islamist groups to conduct subversive operations. Moreover, London actively seeks to use Turkey as a battering ram in this campaign in the region in order to cut a path for British interests and squeeze Russia out of Central Asia.
London began to coordinate its anti-Russian activities in Central Asia with the United States and American intelligence services. There is an explanation for this, as at the moment both Britain and the US benefit from the geopolitical instability in Central Asia, which allows them to keep Russia and China on their toes.
But in addition to this “strategic alliance” between Britain and the United States in Central Asia, London’s desire to involve France “in these actions” has recently become increasingly clear. At the beginning of February, a round table was held in Paris under the aegis of the French parliament to discuss and call for an increased role not only of the “Collective West” but also of France in Central Asia in order to weaken Russia’s influence in the region. “Dancing” around the leaders of Central Asian republics actively took place in Paris, for example, in November of last year around two leaders of this region – Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who were invited to Paris for an official visit. They engaged in active negotiations with members of French political and business circles, who promised billions of dollars of investment in these Central Asian countries, and numerous “memoranda of intent” were concluded.
One of the participants of Paris negotiations was the largest French nuclear company Orano, which concluded a strategic partnership agreement with Uzbek uranium producer Navoiyuran that envisaged joint prospecting and development of deposits.
It is noteworthy that another active participant in the negotiations was the French Development Agency (AFD), which has expressed willingness to invest in projects in these countries. However, this fact is remarkable because it goes beyond “regular business” since the AFD is an analogue of the American USAID, i.e. the structure that performs the functions of an agent of influence and carries out secret missions of the US intelligence services. The “specific interest” of Paris in Central Asia is largely due to uranium deposits required for nuclear power plants, and, after all France is the European leader in nuclear power generation. On the other hand – Kazakhstan is the world leader in manufacture of natural uranium, having 26 % of all of the world’s explored uranium resources in a low price category (about $80 for 1 kg) and provides more than 40 % of all world deliveries. The French-Kazakhstan Joint Venture KATCO already processes 15% of uranium mined in the country, but France obviously wants more, and in pursuing the West’s anti-Russian policy Paris has lately more and more actively joined any action harming Russia in one way or another. Therefore the desire to push Russia away from Central Asia, and Kazakhstan in particular, is now great in Paris, for which it plans to double joint uranium production with this country by 2030, pushing Moscow out. And not only by taking in more uranium, but also by earning money from the construction of nuclear power plants, including in this Russia-centric region.
In early November, the executive director of Électricité de France traveled to Kyrgyzstan, where he met with President Sadyr Japarov, clearly demonstrating Paris’ interest in investing in the Kyrgyz hydropower sector.
In Paris’s demonstrative attempts to strengthen its presence in Central Asia, a traditional zone of Russian influence, one can clearly see more than just the desire to squeeze Rosatom, France’s eternal competitor, in the region and to get its hands on the local uranium. No, there is also an important geopolitical component: Macron obviously wants to get back at Russia for his own failures in Africa, where Russia has been driving France out, taking its place in the process.
However, as for France and Britain’s aspirations regarding Central Asia, and their attempts to oust Russia from this region, they can only be advised not to waste time and money, but to deal with their numerous domestic problems, as mass protests against the ongoing social policy, including at the expense of incredible financial and military aid to support the criminal regime in Kyiv, continue to grow.
Vladimir Platov, expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook.”