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Russian military bases in Central Asia-a regional dilemma

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Kyrgyzstan bloody events of 2010 unveiled "hidden" dangerous policy pursued by the Kremlin in Central Asia.Prior to April uprising in Bishkek,Moscow scrambled to cover its geopolitical ambitions in the region under the auspices of security cooperation with former Soviet republics.Kremlin's activity is particularly evident in the initiative promoting Moscow's interests through Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) driven by Russia but not the other way around as it is proclaimed during summits of "decoy" establishment.Moscow's quite visible stubborn attitude can be spotted with growing Russian military presence in Central Asia,specifically in Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyz Republic in this configuration appears as Russia's geopolitical tool maintaining influence in the region as it is indicated by Russian military bases firm position in Kyrgyzstan under CSTO "roof'.According to latest data for March 2011, there are 5 Russian military installations in Kyrgyzstan which will become part of a future joint Russian military base under Russia's Armed Forces command stated by ITAR-TASS news agency in August 2010.

A list begins with:

999th Russian Air Force base in the village of Kant with number of military personnel ranged from 500 to 750 and more than 20 air planes of Su-24 Su-25 Su-27, Mi-8, as well as L-39 training version (aircraft and military transport purposes including helicopters);

338th Russian Navy Communication Node "Marevo" located near the town of Kara Balta,one of the technical characteristics of which is the ability to conduct wide scale radio-electronic surveillance in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia;

954th Military Research Center conducts torpedo tests in the lake Issyk Kul;

Seismic station under Russian Defence Ministry in the village of Mailuu Suu in south Kyrgyzstan;

And yet another Moscow military project so-called "training center" for Russian and Kyrgyz troops in the city of Osh where already 45 Russian FSB (ex-KGB) operatives settled.They arrived from the village of Novopokrovka near Bishkek where they were located for several years before moving to Osh. (http://www.kp.ru/online/news/747989/)

There is quite interesting detail with existence of Russian FSB deployment near capital Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan.Kyrgyz population had no knowledge of FSB presence until late 2010 when local newspapers and media covered the story.As we know during a summer of 2010 massive riots broke out in the cities of Osh and Jalalabad quickly transformed into inter-ethnic clashes between Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks.Hundreds of inhabitants of southern cities have been killed as a result of massacres not to mention thousands of wounded and waves of refugees numbered up to 100 000 according to international organisations including the United Nations.

On particular note,a reaction of the Government of Uzbekistan to Russian military bases or training facilities development under auspices of CSTO near Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan border in Fergana valley highlights Tashkent's (Capital of Uzbekistan) exceptional resentment toward Kremlin's growing military projects in Central Asia.Uzbekistan lawmakers (Majlis) in July 2009 responded negatively to Moscow initiative with CSTO Rapid Reaction Forces military base in the south of Kyrgyz Republic.Social Democratic Party "Adolat" faction member Saifnazarov in the Parliament of Uzbekistan stated:"Rapid Reaction Forces must be used only to repel foreign aggression.Nowadays,there is a number of "frozen ethnic conflicts" in CIS countries that must be solved only through political efforts.Therefore,we should avoid any possibility of Rapid Reaction Forces involvement in the internal conflicts". (www.gov.uz/ru/press/politics/2110)

In the summer of 2009,the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov's made a negative statement on country's participation in the structures of CSTO's Peacekeeping Forces and expressed concern over Rapid Reaction Forces base close proximity to Uzbekistan's border.(http://svpressa.ru/politic/article/13229 /) A reason behind explicit response of the Government of Uzbekistan to the plans of CSTO Collective Rapid Reaction Force in the south of Kyrgyz Republic was vividly narrated by Turkish analyst of the International Strategic Research Organisation,Turgut Demirtepe (USAK, Ankara, Turkey).In the article "The last tango in Bishkek" published in August 11, 2009 by Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News newspaper(http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=the-last-tango-in-bishkek-2009-08-10)

Demirtepe described imminent concern of Uzbek authorities according to which the Kremlin could have used international terrorist groups such as Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan with ties to Russian intelligence services in order to create a "controlled instability" in Central Asia,as Moscow has done it previously in 1999-2001 (during the attempted breakout of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan from Tajikistan through Kyrgyzstan into the Fergana Valley of Uzbekistan).Further,a Turkish analyst cited a possible scenario for ethnic conflict in southern provinces of Kyrgyz Republic (meaning the city of Osh and Jalalabad) where in the opinion of the Government of Uzbekistan,Moscow might use the initiative with Rapid Reaction Forces to strengthen geopolitical influence in the region by fomenting ethnic clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz which subsequently occurred one year later in June 2010 in southern Kyrgyzstan.

Fears of the Uzbek side also confirmed by occurred in late May 2009 terrorist attacks in the territory of Uzbekistan when infiltration of terrorists took place from Kyrgyzstan into Andijan province of Uzbekistan in Fergana valley.Uzbekistan's Government expressed outrage over Kyrgyz special services inaction,response to which was followed by harsh reaction (not accepting the fact of militants infiltration from the territory of Kyrgyzstan) of Kyrgyz side towards Uzbek authorities. (http://www.fergananews.com/article.php?id=6328) Moreover,after liquidation of terrorists,Uzbek authorities have begun a build up of crossing areas in the Andijan province along the border with Kyrgyz Republic.Tashkent's carried out urgent efforts of border fortification without Kyrgyz Government's consent.During a summer of 2009, Uzbekistan has literally dug sizable trenches on most vulnerable areas of the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border.

Meanwhile,Russian media names Kyrgyzstan as Russia's "outpost" in Central Asia where foreign military bases surprisingly get along despite the obvious tension.Kyrgyz Republic is the only country in the world with military bases of the US and Russia on its soil.A unique phenomenon has been nourished by the

Governments of Kyrgyzstan (former and current) which continuously proclaim Russia's "fraternal" role, providing exclusive rights to the Kremlin for military use of Kyrgyz territory or simply put allocate land for Russian military bases at the same time haggling with Washington over the rent of "Manas" air base runway in Bishkek (Transit Center of Anti-terrorist coalition) where time to time corrupt schemes of jet fuel supply to US-NATO planes pop out involving Kyrgyzstan's high ranking officials and their family members.

Traces of Russian intelligence services were spotted in recent instability in Kyrgyzstan a fact of which mentioned not only in the republics of Central Asia but also in the Western hemisphere.By now,a growing number of world experts and various research organisations come to conclusion that Moscow had conducted a successful operation to overthrow Bakiyev regime in April 2010.John Heathershaw from the University of Exeter in the UK believes Moscow's conduct indicates Russian security services involvement in the support of chosen local politicians in Kyrgyzstan as the Kremlin's done it three decades earlier in Afghanistan.Heathershaw also believes that illegal character of firearms flow in Kyrgyzstan does not happen without a knowledge of Russian security services pointing to the Kremlin's awareness in this area. (http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/john-heathershaw/beware-of-meddling-in-kyrgyzstan)

Notably,a role of Russian military bases in Kyrgyzstan's political instability is far from innocent.Several episodes involving Russia's intelligence agencies lead to such opinion of Russian bases in Kyrgyzstan.Leaked recordings of telephone conversations between deposed President's son, Maxim Bakiyev and his relative Zhanysh Bakiyev (President's brother) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFC7Fhbdd3I as well as followed leaks of the same character http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVG4SQWEj20&feature= related to Kyrgyzstan's interim government officials in post-April 2010 indicate that audio surveillance was produced by high-tech equipment capable to carry out electronic surveillance in the country and the region.This type of electronic surveillance can be conducted by 338th Russian Navy Communication station near the town of Kara Balta.

Technical characteristics of communication station "Marevo" according to "Krasnaya Zvezda" newspaper of Russian Ministry of Defence state:"the communication node "Marevo" is not only broadcasting center it is also receiving and transmitting complex radio point." http://www.redstar.ru/2008/06/11_06/3_04.html Given the fact of Maxim Bakiyev's location in Latvia in May 2010 and his relative Zhanysh Bakiyev in Tajikistan (according to media reports in Kyrgyzstan) recording of telephone conversation could be done only by special units of external intelligence services.Based of this, Moscow's involvement in phone recordings leak is more than likely due to a direct participation in the overthrow of President Bakiyev in April.

Another episode with a reference to Russian security services emerged during the riots in south Kyrgyzstan in June 2010.A video of Russian citizen captured by a group of Kyrgyz volunteers while patrolling neighborhoods and distributing humanitarian aid in violence torn city popped up on the internet.http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BiLUWrbxoGE J's Arrest of "Moscovite" armed with pistol and wearing bullet proof vest (term used for Russians from Moscow) with Russian citizenship was confirmed by leader of Association of NGO's in Kyrgyzstan, Toktaiym Umetalieva who's managed humanitarian aid assistance to victims of Osh and Jalalabad./www.fergananews.com/article.php?id=6889

Among other things,deception of Kremlin politicians with awareness of the causes of unrest in Kyrgyz Republic supported by the fact that President Medvedev has been very well informed by General Intelligence Department (GRU) of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces on so-called third forces (foreign mercenaries, snipers, instigators, representatives of NGO's from Western countries and the U.S.) according to Russian agency, "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" http://www.ng.ru/nvo/2010-06-24/1_kirgiz_echo.html which asserts that Russia's General Intelligence Department (GRU) was gathering information on the unrest in southern Kyrgyzstan and reported directly to Medvedev.

Quote from Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper:"Some people really want to turn Kyrgyzstan into the hotspot of instability in Central Asia" told us one of the officers of the General Staff, while refusing to talk about what kind of third forces (a person, country,organisation,coalition, etc.) is behind the unrest in South Kyrgyzstan.- according to "Nezavisimaya Gazeta".

It is difficult to believe in the fact that having a wide network of intelligence gathering by GRU, Russia does not know a true situation in Kyrgyzstan,often spreading statements of "afghanisation" of the Kyrgyz Republic while in the region of Central Asia itself Kremlin's "afghanisation" is barely mentioned.Additionally,Moscow is not forgetting to insert a desired emphasis in the expansion of Russia's military bases in Kyrgyzstan.

Meanwhile,the Government of Tajikistan has refused to expand Russian military role in protecting cross border areas with Afghanistan.Russia's Nezavisimaya Gazeta states that Tajiks are considering a withdrawal of Russian FSB operatives from Tajikistan. http://www.ng.ru/cis/2011-02-22/6_pianj.html Wikileaks published U.S. State Department's diplomatic cables where ambassador Richard E Hoagland revealed details of private meetings with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon.In particular,Tajik President's revelation of Russian border guards connection to drug trafficking from Afghanistan and attempts of Russian security services to organize a coup in Tajikistan.http: / / www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/12/wikileaks-bleak-picture- tajikistan

Emil Bokoshev

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Author of this article: Emil Bokoshev

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