HOST: Earlier this year, Uzbeks celebrated their 10th year of independence from the Soviet Union. But they had fewer causes for celebration than for anxiety.
FIONA HILL: Serious economic decline, the increase of very serious social problems, and a great deal of political instability.
HOST: Fiona Hill, a central asia expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, says these five countries [Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgystan, and Tajikistan] deeply distressed each other.
FIONA HILL: Uzbekistan has actually started to mine its border with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. There have actually been a number of Tajik and Kyrgen civilians killed by mines, just crossing over the border for routine visits to relatives, or tending livestock. On the Uzbek/Turkmen border, there have also been a series of problems, people crossing the border shot and similarly with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, in fact, over the last several years, all of the borders have become increasingly fortified.
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[Trump] didn't say one word about Ukraine and he had to be briefed on this stuff. The only person to say that the United States says the annexation of Crimea wasn't legal and disagrees with Russia was the president of Russia. The overall contrast [with Trump's criticisms of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and the EU earlier in the trip] coupled with Trump's inability to say Russia had done anything to contribute to the downturn of US-Russia relations, either way it's scary. Either he forgot there's a problem or he wasn't willing. He would have had no problem listing his grievances against Germany, but against Putin, he's not capable of saying anything.