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Kyrgyzstan at a crossroads: either the CSTO or NATO
Material posted: Publication date: 23-02-2012

2011 for the Organization of collective security Treaty ended on a positive note. The most important outcome of the December summit in Moscow is considered to be the signing of the agreement, which placement of troops and military bases on the territory of countries-members of the Organization will be possible only with the permission of each participant. It is no secret that in the first place the document was addressed to Kyrgyzstan, the only country of the CSTO, has on its territory the military base of the USA.

It should be noted that among all countries members of the Organization of the Bishkek stands out for its fickle foreign policy position. Realizing the need to maintain close contact with Russia, and most importantly, the economic dependence from it, the country is a bold multi-vector policy, which, unfortunately, is more like the shy stupid from side to side.

So, after the attacks of 11 September 2001 in new York, the country signed with the USA a cooperation agreement with the anti-terrorist coalition. And since December of the same year at the airport "Manas" the Pentagon has placed its military base, turned into an air-mobile center for the NATO operation in Afghanistan "enduring freedom". Of course, Kyrgyzstan was not the only post-Soviet country to host a US military base on its territory. In 2001, a similar agreement was signed with Uzbekistan. But unlike Bishkek, Tashkent at that time was not in the CSTO.

However, in 2005, after the bloody events in Andijan, when Uzbek authorities brutally suppressed the revolt, relations between Tashkent and Washington escalated. And at the request of Uzbek President Islam Karimov in the same year, the U.S. military withdrew from Uzbekistan. What can be said about the homeland of Chingiz Aitmatov. Moreover, on the initiative of the President of Kyrgyzstan Kurmanbekovich in 2006 was increased rent for the use of an air base from 15 to 60 million US dollars.

Of course, in this case Bishkek did not miss their Mercantile interests, but about unspoken obligations within the CSTO still continued to remember. There is a version (unconfirmed, by the way, the U.S. state Department) that in 2004 the Pentagon came out with the initiative of placing on the territory of the airbase in "Manas" American airplanes airborne early warning AWACS. However, to the credit of the Kyrgyz Bishkek't be supportive of her, saying that it was the intention of the US is beyond the scope of authority and tasks of the ongoing military operations in Afghanistan and does not meet the obligations of Kyrgyzstan within the CSTO. True or not, but the AWACS has not really appeared in Manas.

Such a step Bishkek was quite logical – the United States is far and Russia and Kazakhstan (Kyrgyzstan older brothers) around. And the Foundation of stability in the Central Asian region depends on neighboring countries. Yes for the state and good relation with Moscow is important – the military security of the country is based on the cooperation with Russia. Military-scientific thought of the Republic is also highly dependent on Russian developments. Besides, the Supreme command of the armed forces of Kyrgyzstan held and continues to study at higher military educational institutions of Russia. And the weapons and military equipment of the Soviet and Russian production, standing on arms of the Kyrgyz army, places the country in a complete dependence from Moscow.

However, one gets the impression that if you continue flirting with Moscow, Bishkek does not forget about its profits and is actively negotiating with Turkey and the USA. And it is important that the stumbling block in foreign policy dialogue has once again become the former American air base of an antiterrorist coalition, and in June 2009 the transit Center at the international airport "Manas".

So, back in November 2011 in his election campaign, the future President of Kyrgyzstan of Almasbayev promised to expel Americans from the country after 2014, when the term of the lease. "I don't think that the military base in Manas ensures the safety of our country. I don't want any country retaliated on that basis. A civil airport is a civil object, and it needs them to stay," said Atambayev. But at the same time, he stressed that Kyrgyzstan can create for the transportation of cargo transit to Afghanistan a civilian facility, maybe together with Russia.

Such a statement is well laid down in the policy for the elimination of American military presence in the Central Asian region by the Kremlin. And, it would seem that the outcome of the December summit of the CSTO in Moscow were proof of that, because from now on the deployment of military bases of third countries on the territory of States members of the Organization is impossible without the permission of the other participants.

But, according to many analysts, among signed in Moscow agreements there are a large number of flaws that can (and is actively being used by) those third countries. So, clearly the concept of "military base" exists, and leaders can freely interpret the agreements. It happened in the case of Kyrgyzstan. Officially, the airbase in Manas is not called military, but is merely a transit point. In fact, it gives reason for Americans to stand up before Atambaev on extending its presence in the country. Only hiding for purely peaceful and civilian names.

But, as they say, horseradish radish is not sweeter. How would the USA not called a military base at the international airport "Manas", the more peaceful it will not be. But such turn of events was very favorable of the current Kyrgyz authorities. And in February of this year, during his visit to Turkey, President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev made an attempt somehow to balance the country's policy in the relations between Moscow and Washington. Including, during the meeting with Prime Minister of Turkey Rajapathirana he invited Turkey, along with Russia and other countries, to participate in the restructuring of the U.S. transit center "Manas" after the withdrawal of U.S. troops and NATO from Afghanistan in 2014. It only remains to add that, trying to balance between Moscow and Washington, Kyrgyzstan, in turn, runs the risk of outsmarting yourself.

What made Bishkek so radically inconsistent and to change the course of its foreign policy? Strangely enough, but among the main reasons is present and economic background. Kyrgyzstan were not in the most convenient position after the establishment of the Customs Union and the common economic space between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. And economic implications of creating such economic associations had an effect on the interaction of Bishkek with neighbors. So, after the accession to the Customs Union Astana unilaterally increase customs duties on manufactured in Kyrgyzstan confectionery and imposed a ban on imports to his meat and milk, at the same time limiting the importation of Kazakh oil.

Of course this situation is not like Bishkek, the Kyrgyzstan and held a map of "Manas" in the sleeve. But podoblitsovochnoy policy of the state not come to the liking of the CSTO and Moscow. It was therefore suspended the process of transfer of credit to Kyrgyzstan in the amount of 106 million dollars from the EurAsEC Anticrisis Fund, Russia since 2011 planned to "reward" Bishkek for the firm, as it seemed, a position on the further stay of the American military base in the country.

Actions Bishkek to resolve the situation in the country and to the challenges of national security cannot be called optimal. Instead, it would actively develop a relationship with CSTO countries and to receive from them a huge support, Kyrgyzstan has become quite a slippery slope, flirting with Washington, trying to get some preferences for American military installations that are hosted on their own site. And as compensation for such a policy is necessary "to twist the snake", literally tacking between the United States and Russia, trying to involve other parties (in Turkey) to solve their own problems. But such actions Bishkek can only serve to alienate their allies in the Organization.

The most obvious immediate step for Kyrgyzstan would be the accession to the CES of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. But the policy of "weather vane" visibly rocked Bishkek, which is thrown in all directions with no visible result, only further complicating his situation in the CSTO and the CIS. And even the change of government did not affect the determination of the country, that is why Kyrgyzstan still pharmaciesa from side to side, still undecided, who is his main ally and friend.

PS Inconsistency in policy, flirting with the CSTO, with a huge hole in your pocket and a semi came in the crucible of revolutions of the power, gives the right to conclude that such a policy of Kyrgyzstan will lead to complete failure of its leadership and new shocks in the country. Then perhaps the emergence of a new leader – able to take a firm position in relations with USA and NATO.


Sergei Markov


Tags: Central Asia , CSTO , NATO

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