Since Kazakhstan and Bashkortostan have increased their economic partnership and trade volume, Ufa might significantly promote and strengthen Moscow-Nursultan relations.
On January 19th, 2022, the Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Trade and Integration of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Bakhyt Sultanov, and the Head of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Radiy Khabirov, participated via videoconference in the first meeting of the Working Group on expanding the partnership between Kazakhstan and Bashkortostan. The Working Group results from the Kazakh delegation’s visit to Bashkortostan in September 2021.
The two parties underlined that in the last eleven months of 2021, Kazakhstan-Bashkortostan trade turnover increased by 30.4% and amounted to 336.7 million dollars. Sultanov stressed that Kazakhstan is ready to increase supplies to Bashkortostan for 27.2 million dollars since cooperation between Nursultan and Ufa occupies a special place in the strategic partnership between Kazakhstan and Russia. The Kazakh minister said that to restore pre-crisis trade volumes and expand cooperation, Nursultan and Ufa implemented the Roadmap to develop collaboration for 2022-2024.
Sultanov also said that one of the primary aspects of the partnership is the cross-border cooperation project, which will be formed on the territory of the West Kazakhstan region, close to the Bashkortostan Republic. In this context, he noted that he considers it essential for the next online meeting of the Working Group for specialists to prepare an accurate action plan for this project.
The Head of Bashkortostan Radiy Khabirov noted that strengthening trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian ties with Kazakhstan is one of the most important activities of the republic’s leadership. First Vice Prime Minister – Minister of Economic Development and Investment Policy of Bashkortostan Rustam Muratov spoke about the implementation of the Roadmap for the development of cooperation between the republics for 2022-2024, which included about 70 events. The main directions are investment activity, trade and economic sphere, transport and tourism, agro-industrial complex, industry, education and culture, housing and communal services, construction. The estimated volume of investments under the road map projects is about 104 million dollars (about 80 billion rubles).
Due to its strategic geographical position and sociocultural background, Bashkortostan is a key actor promoting Russian-Kazakh economic and political partnerships. As the Russian Trade Representative in Kazakhstan Andrey Babko noted, among the 84 Russian regions that cooperate with Kazakhstan, Bashkortostan has become the leader confirming the unique role that Ufa plays in the Russian-Kazakh economic relations.
Considering that at the beginning of January 2022, Kazakhstan experienced an internal political crisis characterised by protests and riots, which caused at least 103 victims and pushed for the first time the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) led by Moscow to military intervene in the Central Asian country (Geopolitical consequences of the political crisis in Kazakhstan, Geopolitical Report Vol.15(1), SpecialEurasia), Bashkortostan might become an important geopolitical actor in strengthening Moscow-Nursultan political and economic relations and partnership also supporting the Kazakh economy which has been severely hit by energy price rise and the pandemic’s economic consequences.
Since Kazakhstan is a Central Asian republic that belongs to the post-Soviet space that the Kremlin considers its blizhnee zarubezhe (near abroad) and lebensraum (vital space), the Russian Federation might use the good increasing Kazakh-Bashkortostan relations to enhance its influence and presence in the Kazakh territory and market and counter the Chinese financial investments linked to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (China confirms its commitment and strategy in Central Asia, Monitoring, SpecialEurasia) and the U.S. soft power and attempt to create a commercial and economic partnership with Kazakhstan and entire Central Asia (Geopolitics of the U.S. strategy in Central Asia, Geopolitical Report Vol.14(9), SpecialEurasia).