chapter  12
The Security Dimension of Russia's Policy in South Central Asia Lena]onson
Pages 17

The new importance given to central Asian affairs was reflected in visits and in statements by Prime Minister Putin during the autumn of 1999. His flrst foreign trip as Prime Minister was to Tajikistan, in November 1999, just before the Tajik presidential election, and demonstrated continued Russian support for its ally. The weighty Russian delegation included the Defence Minister, Igor Sergeev, and also the Minister for CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) Affairs and the director of the Russian Federal Border Guard Service. 2 The visit to Uzbekistan which followed in December was no less important, and a series of bilateral agreements on security and military-technical cooperation were signed. The Russian government also became more active with regard to issues connected with the energy export from central Asia. Discussions with Turkmenistan initiated in autumn 1999 resulted in an agreement on renewal of Turkmen gas exports to Russia and indicated a willingness to allow the transit of larger quantities of Turkmen gas in the future. The discussions reflected Russian efforts to counter plans to build a transcaspian pipeline for the export of Turkmen gas to Turkey. However, it was the issue of international terrorism and extremism that produced the shift in Russian policy.