07:52 GMT12 April 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Russian Foreign Ministry has criticized the claims by US Central Command (CENTCOM) commander Gen. Joseph Votel on Moscow’s influence in Central Asia on Saturday and noted that Russia maintains a mutually beneficial cooperation with the regional states, while Washington only pursues its own interests.

    On Tuesday, Votel addressed the US lower house Committee on Armed Services and said that Russia’s significant influence in the Central Asian region "limits US engagement options and provide Moscow additional levers of influence." The official also said that China competes with the United States over the influence in the region.

    "Behind all this, obviously, are those, who would like to cut off the Central Asian countries from a multifaceted array of cooperation with Russia and other participants in the integration processes in the post-Soviet space. The real facts indicate the exceptional importance of this vector for the nations of all regional states," the Russian Foreign Ministry noted.

    Moscow enjoys historically friendly ties with the regional countries and significantly contributes to the promotion of social and economic development of the nations, the Foreign Ministry added.

    READ MORE: US General: 'Russia Threatens Our Ability to Dominate Airspace' in Middle East

    Over the past 10 years, the volume of Russian assistance to the development of Central Asia has exceeded $6 billion, while over $20 billion of Russia’s investments are circulating in the regional economies. At the same time, the regional states invest in the Russian economy too, for example Kazakhstan has invested over $3 billion, according to the statement.

    "For comparison, Washington for the period of 2008 – 2016 contributed about $3 billion to the countries of the region, including military assistance. The United States approaches the cooperation with the Central Asian countries in a very consumer, unilateral way, seeking to gain access to their raw materials, logistics, transit corridors, as well as to gain control over the sensitive security sector," the Ministry's statement read.

    Russia respects the right of its Central Asian allies to choose their partners, but is against if one of these partners tries to spark discord, the Foreign Ministry underlined.


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