Uzbekistan Protests New Russian Base

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by Nathan Hamm on 8/4/2009 · 1 comment

Uzbekistan is stepping up its criticism of Russia’s plan to open a second military base in Kyrgyzstan, this one to be placed near Uzbekistan’s border in the Ferghana Valley. It has stepped up the rhetoric, claiming that the new base would destabilize the region and provoke extremists.

“The implementation of such projects on complex and unpredictable territory, where the borders of three Central Asian republics directly converge, may give impetus to the strengthening of militarization processes and initiate all kinds of nationalistic confrontations,” the Uzbek statement asserted. “Also, it could lead to the appearance of radical extremist forces that could lead to serious destabilization this vast region.”

All of the analysis is pretty spot-on in the source article. Uzbekistan fears a loss of influence over Kyrgyzstan and is couching its opposition to the base in terms of countering terrorism and promoting stability. Since this is a CSTO base, one can’t help but wonder how long until Uzbekistan leaves the organization. Regardless of how it reacts, the Uzbek government probably shouldn’t expect too much diplomatic backing against Russia on this one. As far as the US goes, besides not wanting to be seen arguing against foreign bases in Kyrgyzstan so soon after a late-in-the-game deal kept Manas open, the Afghanistan mission gets quite a bit of quiet help from Russia.

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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