July 25, 2014

US-Central Asia arms deal provokes Russia’s anger

By Sajad - Sat Jun 16, 10:41 am

Russia considers the transfer of U.S. military equipment from Afghanistan to Central Asian armed forces to be “unacceptable,” and contrary to agreements those countries have signed as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

U.S. and NATO forces are to leave Afghanistan by 2014. After the withdrawal, some U.S. military equipment might remain in various Central Asian states. The U.S. Department of Defense is currently negotiating this issue with Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan behind closed doors.

If implemented, this plan would allow Washington to expand its military cooperation with Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) member countries. The report, in Kommersant newspaper, provoked an angry response from one Russian official. A Russian diplomat said, on condition of anonymity, that Moscow considers this scenario to be “absolutely unacceptable.”

The military of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan were in “closed talks” with the Pentagon about receiving armoured vehicles, tank trailers, and other specialised equipment, Kommersant reported.

Some of it would be handed over for free while other items would be for safe storage, the report said, citing sources close to, or inside the various respective armies.

The Kyrgyz Defense Ministry’s officials said talks with the Pentagon were in progress. A source noted that the issue was first raised during U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s March 13 visit to Bishkek. At that time, Pentagon representatives met with Kyrgyz Defense Minister Talaibek Omuraliyev and suggested providing the Kyrgyz army with U.S. military equipment after the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

According to reports the republics will receive some of the equipment, including armored vehicles, tank transporters, prime movers, tank trucks, special-purpose graders, bulldozers and water trucks, free of charge. Some of this equipment will be stored at local installations. In addition, the Pentagon plans to provide Afghanistan’s neighbors with medical equipment, communications systems, fire extinguishing equipment and even mobile gyms and other household facilities.

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