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Summary: Soviet Bequest and Russian Security Policy in Central Asia

Markus Brach-von Gumppenberg

Having quickly achieved independence in the beginning of the 1990ies the republics of Central Asia suddenly were confronted with a security-political parlous state. The establishment of the Community of Independent States promised stability and continuance of Soviet and Russian influence, which was significantly important for the denuclearisation of the region.

The relationship between Moscow and Kazakhstan had always been very close because of their strategic situation and their high Russian section of the population. Kazakhstan takes part in a common air defence system, leases the Cosmodrom in Baikonur to Russia, and fully cooperates in matters of security. Khirgisistan has uranium deposits which Russia imports, and compensates the stationing of Russian troops in the military base of Kant to Moscow, whereas the USA have to pay hard-earned money for using Manas. Both bases are used for fighting against terrorism in Central Asia.

A Russian military presence is a stabilizing element in Tadschikistan as well. It has become established and goes back to the Afghanistan war. Today Russian forces are in the country for the protection of the border to Afghanistan and also as a peacekeeping force after the civil war. The regular stationing of troops agreed upon lately suggests long-term Russian planning. The security-political cooperation between Moscow and Turkmenistan, whose integration in the USSR had always been the weakest, is far less distinct. Turkmenistan never joined the Collective Security Treaty Organisation CSTO, and even today does not avoid keeping its distance from Moscow.

Concerning the relationship between Uzbekistan and Russia distinct phases can be detected, the first of which, lasting up to the independence of the Soviet Republic, was marked by close integration, caused by armaments industry and uranium mining. After that, military cooperation was close for the time being, but in the mid-nineties Uzbekistan looked for alternatives and made contact with western points of view. In 2001 Uzbekistan joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation SCO and launched a balancing policy between West and East. Since the spring of 2005, however, a clear abandonment of the West has been perceptible.

In general one can state that the West is losing its influence on Central Asia and that China is taking its place, because there matters of human rights and democracy do not rate as highly as in the West. Thus, Central Asia ought to be seen in its entirety and not only under the conditions of war against terrorism.

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Eigentümer und Herausgeber: Bundesministerium für Landesverteidigung | Roßauer Lände 1, 1090 Wien
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