The new US Ambassador, Matthew S. Klimov, will soon head the US diplomatic mission in Ashgabat. The interests of the United States and the tasks of American diplomacy in the region and in Turkmenistan are disclosed in the analytical material of Dr. Victoria Clement on the website of The Diplomat.
The new ambassador – a graduate of West Point, served as an officer in the US Army from 1974 to 2003. He commanded at the level of battalions and brigades and received the Silver Order for supporting Operation Desert Storm. He retired with the rank of colonel.
In his speech to the US Senate, Klimov emphasized that the US has long-term interests in Central Asia and that its upcoming work in Turkmenistan provides an opportunity to advance these interests. At the same time, he particularly noted terrorism and drug trafficking as potential threats to Turkmenistan, which borders with Iran and Afghanistan in the south.
Matthew Klimov’s speech to members of the Senate resonates with the current US interest in Turkmenistan’s significant hydrocarbon resources. Until recently, China was the only significant buyer of Turkmen natural gas. In April 2019, Russia resumed the import of Turkmen gas.
Klimov, in his speech at the Senate, promised that he would “make every effort to promote the diversification of the gas export markets of Turkmenistan through the Caspian Sea, as well as to South Asia.” This moment in Klimov’s speech echoes the wishes of US President Donald Trump expressed in a congratulatory message to the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, on the occasion of the Novruz holiday.
“The people of the United States of America and its business circles continue to look for new directions to strengthen our economic cooperation with Turkmenistan. I hope that Turkmenistan will be able to take advantage of new gas export opportunities to the West in connection with the recent determination of the legal status of the Caspian Sea,” the US head wrote then.
In this regard, Victoria Clement notes that the United States would like Turkmenistan to diversify its gas market through the Trans-Caspian pipeline, which will deliver Turkmen energy to Europe through Azerbaijan.
According to her, this pipeline has been at the center of attention of the United States since the 1990s, and the recent signing of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea was a revelation to the Americans. The analyst believes that the convention allows for the construction of energy pipelines, with each party having jurisdiction over any facilities or installations in its sector. In other words, the coastal states will control the resources that pass through the Caspian Sea, and this increases the likelihood of the construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline.
In conclusion, Victoria Clement stresses that the United States pays attention to the possibility of diversification of its energy markets by Turkmenistan. Since both the former US ambassador to Turkmenistan Allan Mustard and the new ambassador, speaking of the US commercial interests in Turkmenistan, underline the prospects in the field of pipelines.
Judging by the analysis of the Turkmen-American relations outlined by Victoria Clement, on the eve of the arrival of the new US ambassador to Ashgabat, Washington intends to promote the diversification of gas export markets of Turkmenistan through the Caspian Sea, as well as to South Asia. It only says that this diversification fully corresponds to the political and commercial interests of the United States in Central Asia, and in particular, in Turkmenistan.
The Americans have repeatedly stated their support for the supply of Turkmen gas to Europe through the Southern Gas Corridor, as well as via the TAPI gas pipeline to the countries of South Asia – Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. In the first case, Europe’s energy dependence on Russian gas supplies is weakened. In the second case, the supply of Turkmen gas will help resolve the situation in Afghanistan and the region as a whole.
Both of these issues in the foreign policy of Washington is given considerable attention, and still, without much success. Russia is completing the Nord Stream – 2 and intends to begin gas supplies to Europe along this line at the end of this year. As for Afghanistan, negotiations with the Taliban on the Afghan settlement are also quite difficult.
Judging by Matthew Klimov’s speech to members of the Senate, the United States, in addition to its political interests in the region, also has commercial, also associated with Turkmen gas. This means that US companies can take part in the implementation of projects to diversify Turkmen gas exports.
In general, US officials have always noted that the neutral policies of Ashgabat have a stabilizing effect on the difficult situation in Central Asia. In particular, they emphasized the Turkmen assistance in solving the socio-economic problems of Afghanistan.