Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has offered to invest “at least $500 million” in a Central Asian electricity project that will provide energy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mr. Putin made the offer at a one-day meeting of the Prime Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation held in St. Petersburg on Monday.

“Russia is willing to commit at least $500 million into this project,” said Mr. Putin. “We could implement this project in a fairly short time and we propose intensifying work in this direction.”

Under the Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Trade and Transmission Project, CASA 1000, hydropower-rich Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will export 1,000MW of electricity to power-deficit Afghanistan and Pakistan.

CASA-1000 is one of the projects that may be undertaken by a proposed energy club of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

“We support the idea of setting up the SCO energy club,” Mr. Putin said. He added that the decision to form the energy club had been approved.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation comprises six full members – China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, four observer states – India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan, and two dialogue partners – Belarus and Sri Lanka.

Putin backs Iran

Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has backed Iran’s criticism of the West’s handling of Arab spring revolutions.

“Indeed, as you said those arrogant world powers supported the old regimes in North Africa but, curiously, they also supported the revolutions that toppled those regimes,” Mr. Putin said at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in St. Petersburg on Monday.

“This world is a strange place, but interesting,” quipped Mr. Putin.

Addressing the meeting earlier Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said the Arab revolutions were the result of “the support the arrogant world powers extended to the anti-people regimes.”

After NATO launched its military campaign in Libya Mr. Putin famously condemned it as “foreign invasion” against a sovereign state that reminded him of “medieval crusades”.

More In: International | News