該次會議中，兩大後蘇聯時代的集團──集體安全公約組織(CSTO)和歐亞經濟共同體(EurAsEC)2月4日於莫斯科會面。雖然當時的頭條新聞，刊載了吉爾吉斯總統巴基耶夫(Kurmanbek Bakiev)意外宣佈將關閉境內美軍空軍基地的消息；然而，俄羅斯對中亞水資源與能源爭議該如何處理的立場明顯轉變，才是許多與會者最關心的問題 。
這項意見與莫斯科當局先前立場有所不同。先前莫斯科片面支持塔吉克和吉爾吉斯的水電廠計畫，無視烏茲別克的反對。烏茲別克害怕在Amu Darya和Syr Darya兩大水道上築水壩，將會威脅其農業部門賴以維持的灌溉用水。
｢與烏茲別克結盟在地緣政治和戰略方面的重要性，將超過俄羅斯在那些缺乏自然資源小國的利益。 然而，克里姆林宮幾乎不願看見吉爾吉斯和塔吉克脫離，並轉向美國和西方世界。｣ 他說。
Central Asian leaders gathered for a summit of former Soviet states last week amid signs that Russia was beginning to show a more active interest in their region's water and energy disputes. However, regional analysts were divided over whether Moscow's engagement would help bring the different states closer together, or deepen the existing divisions between them.
When the heads of member states of two post-Soviet blocs, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and the Eurasian Economic Community, EurAsEC, met in Moscow on February 4, the headline news was Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiev's surprise announcement that the United States military airbase in his country was to close.
There was, however, another issue occupying the minds of many summit participants - Russia's apparent change of stance on how Central Asian water and energy disputes should be managed. For the leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, one of the key questions being asked behind close doors is what exactly Russian president Dmitry Medvedev meant by remarks he made during a visit to Uzbekistan in January.
Speaking on January 23 after meeting his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov, Medvedev said Russian investment in projects to build hydroelectric power stations in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan would only go ahead if the schemes took into account the interests of other states in the region.
Such projects involving rivers that cross state borders had to be agreed to by all the countries affected, not just the direct beneficiaries, and needed to adhere to environmental and other international standards.
The Russian leader's comments represented a major departure from Moscow's previous position, which had favored hydroelectric projects in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan without seeming to consider objections from Uzbekistan, which fears that damming up rivers that feed the great Amu Darya and Syr Darya waterways will starve it of the irrigation on which its agricultural sector depends.
Medvedev's apparent about-face came as a shock to Kyrgyz and Tajik leaders. On January 26, the Tajik foreign ministry sent a diplomatic note expressing astonishment at what Medvedev had said regarding hydroelectric plant investment.
Then, on February 2, Tajik president Imomali Rahmon sent an even stronger message by suddenly announcing he would not be attending either summit in Moscow. The official reason was that Tajikistan was experiencing a severe energy crisis. This was a major statement of discontent from a government that has maintained strong ties with the Russians over many years.
However, the following day that position was reversed and Rahmon went to the Moscow meetings after all.
Nevertheless, political analysts say Rahmon's initial decision not to attend an important regional meeting showed just how angry his administration was with Moscow for apparently cosying up to the Uzbeks at the expense of his country.
The Tajiks feel Medvedev's remarks violate at least the spirit of agreements signed by Moscow.
In 2004, then president Vladimir Putin announced a major deal under which Russian firms would complete work on the Rogun and Sangtuda-1 power stations. The Rogun deal fell apart because of differences of opinion over the eventual size of the dam, and since then the Tajiks have proceeded with construction work by themselves. Last August, however, Medvedev signaled that Russia was still interested in being part of this major project.
Uzbekistan voiced its discontent with the way things were going by announcing its withdrawal from EurAsEC last autumn. The decision came as the Central Asian states appeared to be closer than ever to a comprehensive deal on water and energy. The Uzbeks refused to sign up to it, as they have always preferred to discuss water supplies from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and sales of their own natural gas to those countries on a one-to-one basis rather than within a regional framework.
Prior to that, the constituent Soviet republics existed within a unitary economic system, so that Tajikistan's and Kyrgyzstan's power stations were designed to supply the entire Central Asian electricity grid and also regulate water flows to the downstream republics. In turn, the Tajiks and Kyrgyz would be supplied with oil, gas and coal from Uzbekistan, Kazakstan and Russia.
In the post-Soviet economic order, the Kazaks and Uzbeks began selling their oil and gas on a commercial basis. Tashkent is now charging the Tajiks and Kyrgyz near world market prices for gas, but it regards water as a free natural commodity and complains when its mountainous neighboring states withhold it in the crucial growing season in order to fill up their reservoirs and avoid running short of electricity in winter.
From the point of view of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, Tashkent needs to recognize that water has a value just like fuel and that it should contribute financially or in kind to the upkeep of regulatory systems such as dams. Tagay Rahmonov of Tajikistan's Centre for Strategic Studies believes Medvedev conceded a point to the Uzbeks on the hydropower dispute in order to secure their cooperation on a gas pipeline project that would supplement the existing Central Asia-Centre export.
Last year, Turkmenistan agreed to a project to expand an existing pipeline and built a new one alongside it leading northwards along the eastern Caspian Sea shore via Kazakstan to Russia. Rahmonov believes the Uzbeks have signed up to an extension of this route allowing their gas to go straight to Russia.
At the same time, Moscow may not be about to sacrifice all its interests in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan for the sake of Uzbek gas. According to a Tashkent-based analyst, the real objective may be to figure out the best workable compromise whereby Moscow keeps everyone more or less on side.
"The geopolitical and strategic importance of an alliance with Uzbekistan could outweigh Russia's interests in the smaller countries which are poor in natural resources. But then again, the Kremlin is hardly likely to want to see Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan peeling away and moving towards the United States and the West," he said.
As other commentators point out, there are other players jostling to get into the Central Asian electricity market. The United States wants to supply power generated in the region to Afghanistan and South Asia. The Iranians are investing in one of the Sangtuda dams in Tajikistan, and others like the European Union and China are interested in playing a greater rule.
This article originally appeared February 4, 2009 in Reporting Central Asia, produced by theInstitute for War and Peace Reporting