Next year Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will receive the latest Russian weapons worth $1.1bn and $400m, respectively. Why is Moscow arming Uzbekistan’s neighbours?
Russia is expected to start its first weapon supplies to Kyrgyzstan as early as in the spring of 2013.
Russia is expected to provide military aid for Tajikistan too. Moscow has promised Dushanbe $200m in aide to cover military expenses and to cancel customs duties on fuels and lubricants, which will bring the country another $200m.
Russia will provide all this military aid to the two countries as no-strings aid.
To annoy Kairmov?
Russia has increased activity in Central Asia after the USA started strengthening bilateral relations with Uzbekistan, agreeing with Uzbek President Islam Karimov on the transit of cargo from Afghanistan which NATO forces are planning to leave in 2014.
Most of the NATO weapons used in Afghanistan, according to well-informed sources, the alliance command is planning to leave in Uzbekistan.
A thaw in relations between Tashkent and Washington was marked by Karimov’s démarche to Moscow, which was expressed in Uzbekistan’s yet another withdrawal from the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO).
At the forthcoming CSTO summit in Moscow this December will consider Uzbekistan’s statement as to its withdrawal from this military bloc.
The Uzbek move has forced Moscow to step up relations with other Central Asian countries.
Officials from the Kremlin have become frequent visitors to the region. Diplomatic paratroopers led by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov first landed in Bishkek and then in Dushanbe.
After the reconnaissance party, heavy artillery came into action. Russian President Vladimir Putin paid official visits to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan between September and October.
We will pay any price
Russia promised to help Kazakhstan to resolve problems in the oil and gas sector. It also wrote off Kyrgyzstan’s foreign debts of $489m and signed an agreement to build the Kambarata-1 and Naryn hydropower stations.
Tajikistan did not lose either. Russia removed customs duties on fuel and lubricants.
In response, both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan extended the stay of Russian military bases in their territories.
Bishkek extended the term of an agreement with the Russian Defence Ministry on special military facilities to 2032 with a possibility of a further extention.
Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon went even further to sign an agreement to extend the deployment of the 201st division to 30 years.
It is evident from practical actions that Russia has serious intentions. According to experts, Moscow is not going to lose the leadership in the strategically important region to Washington.
Both weapons and hydropower station
Next year Kyrgyzstan will receive most of the weapons for its own army.
Russia will supply the Kyrgyz army with helicopters, infantry vehicles, armoured personnel carriers, reconnaissance and patrol vehicles and field and stationary hospitals.
The Kyrgyz Defence Ministry’s arsenal will be supplemented with all types of small arms.
A member of the Kyrgyz Defence Council, Tokon Mamytov, considers that, first of all, it is necessary to strengthen border troops with the help of Rusisa.
These troops will be supplied with mountain artillery, 12-barrel mortars, special motor vehicles and satellite communication.
Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev brought up the issue relating to military equipment supplies for the Kyrgyz army during his meetings with Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov in August and President Vladimir Putin in September.
Experts believe that Russia will support Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in a dispute over the construction of the Kambarata and Rogun hydropower stations. Tashkent may be isolated in this dispute.
Experts think that Uzbekistan’s pro-American policy may seriously weaken Uzbekistan’s position in the CIS.