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Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan send humanitarian aid to Ukraine – The Diplomat

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Crossroads Asia | Company | Central Asia

Both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have sent planes loaded with humanitarian aid – mainly medicine and food – to Ukraine.

On April 8, over 34 tonnes of humanitarian aid – mainly medicine, first aid kits and food – arrived in the Zakarpatska region in western Ukraine, also called Transcarpathia, from Uzbekistan. Aid from Uzbekistan joins a stream of aid flowing to Ukraine from a number of humanitarian aids hubs established by the European Union in the countries located on the western border of Ukraine.

The head of the Zakarpatska region, Viktor Mikita, thanked the Uzbek government and the Ukrainian ambassador in Tashkent, Mykola Doroshenko, for making help possible. Doroshenko became ambassador to Uzbekistan in 2020, having served as ambassador to Kyrgyzstan.

As the war in Ukraine approaches its seventh week, pledges and aid shipments continue to pour in from approximately the world. Central Asian countries have largely tried to maintain a neutral position at the official diplomatic level, for example by abstaining (or avoiding) the vote in early March to condemn the Russian invasion and by voting against the expulsion of Russia from the UN Human Rights Council last week. But at the same time, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have strongly expressed their support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The humanitarian aid the two countries have sent further underlines the sympathy for the plight of Ukraine.

The first batch of humanitarian aid from Kazakhstan was sent in mid-March, with a government press release noting that Nur-Sultan intended to send 82 tonnes of medical aid. On March 14 and 15, two planes carrying just over 28 tonnes landed in Katowice, Poland from Almaty. Additional planes arrived later in March, including on a March 28 which carried 17 tons of bedding and food. Kazakh planes that arrived with help in Poland usually returned to Almaty with repatriated Kazakhs evacuated from Ukraine.

The largest aid transfers from Kazakhstan come with clear government stamps, while aid from Uzbekistan is said to be a public initiative with government support. Aid from Kyrgyzstan, for its part, appears more clearly rooted in civil society, with national NGOs and aid groups collecting aid to send to Ukraine and individuals who send money in the besieged country.

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Meanwhile, much of Europe and the United States are sending various types of military aid. According to Policy, more than 25 countries have joined in the effort to fund Ukraine’s war effort, buying and delivering weapons. These range from Stinger anti-aircraft missile systems and Javelin anti-tank missiles from the United States to thousands of rounds from Spain, Canada, Germany, etc. Countries providing military aid are largely confined to Europe and North America (except Australia, South Korea, Japan and Turkey), while those sending humanitarian aid cover the whole world.

Humanitarian aid – medicine, food and clothing – is essential, but makes a different political statement than sending bullets.