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Russia Gives $1.5 bln to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for Military Expenditure

Monday 19 November 2012

MOSCOW (Kommersant) – Russia is prepared to spend $1.1 billion on modernising Kyrgyzstan’s army and US $200 mln on meeting the needs of Tajikistan’s armed forces. Moscow will also give Dushanbe $200 mln in benefits on petroleum products.

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Kyrgyz Scorpion special forces soldiers exercise at the Ala-Too
The Kyrgyz army still largely uses Soviet equipment and cannot afford new weapons. President Atambayev recently acknowledged that only 25th Special Forces brigade Scorpion trained by NATO met the modern requirements. Kyrgyz gunners, for example, still use 122 and 152-mm Howitzer M-30 and D-1, model 1938 and 1943.

According to Kommersant, in response to US attempts to gain a foothold in Uzbekistan, Russia is strengthening its military-technical cooperation with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Moscow is believed to have promised Bishkek $1.1 billion for modernising its army. Agreements to this effect were reached during the visits to Bishkek by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov in August and President Vladimir Putin in September. The issue will be high on the agenda for Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev’s visit to Moscow on 14-15 November.

The programme of military support for Tajikistan is more modest, with Russia prepared to shell out $200 million. The money will be used for modernising the Republic’s air defences and repair military hardware. But that is not all Dushanbe can hope for. Tajikistan would like Moscow to pay $250 million for leasing the 201st Russian military base. However, during Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Dushanbe, it was agreed to extend the lease by 30 years without any fresh payments. Instead, Moscow has agreed to ease the regime for Tajikistan citizens on the territory of the Russian Federation and said it would think about investing in construction of hydroelectric power stations in Tajikistan.

The Kyrgyz army is the weakest in Central asia and of all of the former Soviet republics, it was the most reluctant and the least able or prepared to establish a national military. At the time of its formation in 1992, the Kyrgyz army had only 20,000 personnel, reduced recently to 15,000 of which 70-75% are contractors. In 2006, the term of draft military service was reduced from 18 to 12 months. The country has one military academy which instructs junior officers and a National Military Lyceum that trains middle commanders. The Ministry of Defense of Kyrgyzstan has also its Special Forces: Scorpion and Ilbirs units.

Russia has increased its actions in Central Asia after the US began strengthening its bilateral relations with Uzbekistan, reaching an accord in the past year with 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 are planned to be transported out through Uzbekistan. A defrost in relations between Tashkent and Washington was reflected in Uzbekistan’s latest withdrawal from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). At the forthcoming CSTO summit in Moscow this December, the military bloc will consider Uzbekistan’s decision to withdraw.

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