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Warming expected in Ashgabat-Moscow ties, expert beleives
Central Asia | analysis | 11:49, 30 January 2016 | 2439

AKIPRESS.COM - cooperation Relations between Ashgabat and Moscow, which worsened after Russian energy giant Gazprom refused to purchase Turkmen natural gas, are likely warming, according to the expert on Central Asia and correspondent at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Bruce Pannier.

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov's offer to create a transit corridor with Russia, as well as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's statement calling Moscow-Ashgabat relations strategic allows making this conclusion. But only a small warming in relations between Russia and Turkmenistan will be observed.

"Foreign Minister Lavrov did mention opening a transportation corridor between Turkmenistan and Russia. That appears to be simply reopening corridors that have shut down in the last seven or eight years. There were not many details revealed about this corridor or what it means," Pannier told AzerNews.

The expert believes that Russia wants Turkmenistan to be more cooperative in CIS affairs.

"We've seen several Russian officials mention in recent months that the problems in northern Afghanistan, across the border from Turkmenistan, are a source of concern for other Central Asian states and the entire CIS," he noted. "Turkmenistan has denied there are any significant problems and rejected any suggestion that Turkmen forces need any help to reliably guard the country's border with Afghanistan."

This is the sort attitude Moscow objects to, not only because Turkmenistan is resisting a Russian role in its domestic affairs, but also because it is an example to other CIS states that an individual country can function without much help from Russia, according to Pannier.

Anyway, significant changes in the Ashgabat-Moscow ties are expected to happen after Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Turkmenistan.

"Turkmenistan did extend an invitation to Vladimir Putin to make an official visit. If there is going to be a change in relations between Russia and Turkmenistan, I do not think it would happen until Putin actually goes to Turkmenistan and it is not yet clear when that will happen," Pannier concluded.

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