Kyrgyzstan Ends Lease of USA Military Base, as Russia Promises more Aid
Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Russia is going to start sending $1 billion in weapons to Kyrgyzstan this year, as part of a bilateral armed forces assistance program.
This announcement appears to be an acceleration of earlier plans. On June 25th, Shoigu Moscow said Russia would begin supplying weapons and other military equipment to Kyrgyzstan in 2014.
Just a few days before Shoigu’s announcement, on June 3rd, Kyrgyzstan government agreed it would sell its shares in the Soviet-legacy Dastan torpedo factory to Russian investors. Kommersant, Russian newspaper, reported that the Kyrgyzstan government’s spokesperson said Russian investors would be given priority in purchasing the shares in the factory at an auction in the fall.
On June 20th, Kyrgyzstan’s parliament passed legislation to end the U.S. lease on the Transit Center at Manas, a key airbase vital to U.S. military reach in Afghanistan and Central Asia. According to the law, U.S. forces must abandon the base at Manas International Airport by July 2014.
According to a report in Eurasia Net, this move is an indication of a new Russian strategy of “divide and rule”. Two of the best scholars dealing with Central Asian geopolitical issues, Alex Cooley and Marlene Laruelle published a paper in June, titled “The Changing Logic of Russian Strategy in Central Asia: From Privileged Sphere to Divide and Rule?” which details how the Kremlin has recently moved towards prioritizing its ties with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as client states, following Uzbekistan’s departure from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in June 2012.
Eurasia Net claims Russia’s efforts to get Kyrgyzstan to evict the U.S. from its air base at Manas could probably be seen as part of this trend, as well as the plan to base CSTO air forces in Kyrgyzstan. This will be one of the big stories to watch in Central Asia in the coming years
The landlocked Central Asian republic currently has both Russian and U.S. military bases.
Originally titled The Collective Security Treaty (CST), CSTO was signed on May 15, 1992 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan as a competitor to NATO and the EU. To transform CST into a full-fledged international organization, on October 7, 2002 the Charter of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Agreement on legal status of the CSTO were signed in Kishinev and came into force on September 18, 2003.
The Collective Security Treaty Organization, formed under the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States, serves as a mutual defense alliance among Russia, Belarus, Armenia and the four Central Asian states except Turkmenistan. CSTO members are Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
The fundamental objective of the Organization is listed as to continue and strengthen close and comprehensive relations in the foreign policy, military, military-technical spheres, coordination and joint efforts in combating international terrorism and other security threats.
Image Credit: http://en.rian.ru; Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev