Kyrgyzstan has received no warning from US of possible sanctions-senior official

ALMATY (Reuters) – Kyrgyzstan has not been informed by the United States of possible action against Kyrgyz companies, a senior Kyrgyz official said, after a U.S. paper said Washington was considering such a move to halt Russia using Kyrgyz firms to circumvent sanctions.

The Kyrgyz official said the Central Asian country would view being singled out in any sanctions package as unfair.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that U.S. officials were particularly concerned about the role played by Kyrgyzstan in Russian schemes to evade sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, and to acquire high-tech items such as Chinese drones.

According to the newspaper, the Biden administration is preparing new economic measures to pressure the country to halt the sanctions-busting.

“We would regret it if among the many dozens of countries seeing a much greater trade volume of the banned supplies, some people in Washington decided to pick on Kyrgyzstan,” said the Kyrgyz official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“Kyrgyzstan is a free market economy with very limited government resources,” the official added. “We cannot be reasonably expected to police every entrepreneur and approve every transaction.”

He said that the majority of shipments of sanctioned goods never crossed Kyrgyz territory and are done only nominally on behalf of Kyrgyz-registered entities.

“We are in close contact with the relevant US and European authorities who assure us that they fully understand the situation,” the official said.

The former Soviet republic of 7 million hosts a Russian military airbase and is a member of a Moscow-led trade bloc; it also relies heavily on remittances from hundreds of thousands of Kyrgyz migrant labourers working in Russia.

The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Kyrgyzstan was a close partner that benefited from integration with Russia.

“We intend to further develop bilateral relations with Kyrgyzstan, which we value very highly, as well as all formats of our joint integration,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

(Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)