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Strategic Interests and "Regiment of Boy-Soldiers" in Central Asia

Strategic Interests and "Regiment of Boy-Soldiers" in Central Asia
Baranov Anatoly 16.06.2009

As it's already known, Uzbekistan and Belarus do not accept participation in formation of Collective Rapid Deployment Forces (CRDF) of Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). On June, 14th leaders of five countries-participants of Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) signed an agreement on creation of CRDF at the summit in Moscow. But the document was not signed by Uzbekistan and Belarus.

Objections of Belarus are known - it's position of Moscow in relation to the Belarus milk, we wrote about it in detail "without delay". Belarus will not participate in the summit of Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Moscow, the Press Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Andrey Popov informed. "Now we are witnesses of open economic discrimination from outside one of the states of CSTO against Belarus on the important commodity group. Similar actions objectively undermine economic safety - that is the basis of stability and, accordingly, complex and universal safety", - was declared by him.

However, despite of a conflict sharpness, position of Belarus is not uncompromising in relation to CSTO - if situation will be settled, Minsk can join the contract.

Position of Uzbekistan which is not in conflict condition with Moscow and which position is intelligent and thought over is much more important. It's obviously underestimated in the Kremlin. Medvedev noted as far as Uzbekistan concerns that there "there is a number of doubts". However the state television channel "Uzbekistan" on June, 14th, informing about signing at the summit in the Kremlin of CSTO document, noticed that the republic "has firm position on a number of questions of principle". It is not for nothing that looking through the Russian mass-media it is very difficult to find the essence of special position of Uzbekistan. While it, in general, puts an end to the concept of CSTO.

First of all, the president of Uzbekistan Karimov asks a question on operational administration. It's clear that such structure as CSTO should be very mobile but this mobility will be limited not technically but at decision-making level - now consensus decision-making method is in action but we see that even in the question of creation of joint forces 2 countries out of 7 do not agree. What will happen at appearance of real threat if countries-participants estimate this threat differently for themselves? The process of making decisions will take months or may be even years?

Creation of Central-Asian groupings of armies will be positively reflected on adaptation and creation of uniform standards in combat training, regimentals and food. Armies of the CIS will have not only uniform technique and arms but also uniform standards to performance of operations. Really, already today armed forces of the CIS countries in majority are being completed with the Russian arms, therefore as on conditions of countries - participants of CSTO it's being sold to them for lowered factory prices. NATO cannot rearm the CIS countries under the Western standards at least because it is economically unprofitable to these countries. But these are the only positive moments for the CIS countries.

Uzbekistan also has questions on interaction inside CSTO. Literally one week prior to the summit they started in Uzbekistan building seven-metre high walls and digging of trench on the border with Kirghizia, earlier Uzbekistan mined all borders with Tajikistan. Uzbekistan carries out private rivalry with Kazakhstan for leadership in Central Asian region. Tashkent is very much afraid that the agreements signed will open possibilities for intervention into internal affairs of Uzbekistan. What joint forces we are talking about?

The more so 15 years ago aggravation of situation on the Tadjik-Afghani border and threat of carrying over of battle action from Afghanistan to the territory of the CIS served as stimulus to activization of military cooperation in the Commonwealth. However already then different approaches inside the CIS countries outlined. Let's say Ukraine, seeing no threat near its borders, actually at once withdrew from Collective Peace-keeping Forces. Later all other countries did almost the same thing. At the end when Collective Peace-keeping Forces were generated they were joined by one battalion from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia and Tajikistan, total strength 1,5 thousand people. Uzbekistan confined itself to granting of striking powers of the Air Forces, its part of the border (the Termezsky corridor) it protected independently, having developed there defense in depth.

As a result the basic weight of war on the Afghani border laid down on Group of frontier troops of the Russian Federation numbering at various times from 22 to 17 thousand people (for the sake of justice it is necessary to notice that the staff was formed on the basis of recruits of Tajikistan, mainly officers, ensigns and contract employees were Russian) and partly on the 201st division of the Air Forces of the Russian Federation numbering up to 7 thousand people. The battalion from Kirghizia was deployed mainly near to Ishkashimsky frontier group where battle actions were seldom. The Kazakhstan battalion was located in Kalaj-Humbsky area and sustained serious losses. However it's difficult to speak about some serious part of Collective Peace-keeping Forces in real war - their joint share was very insignificant.

However even today we observe the same scheme of formation of joint forces - 1 battalion from the country. That is from 5 to 7 battalions at the best. That is 1 more or less high-grade brigade. Whether it is possible to consider one brigade of special action forces serious force on Central-Asian battlefield?

For comparison, president Medvedev compared future of CSTO to similar formations of NATO: number of Nato Response Force (NRF) made first 9 thousand people and by October, 2006 was made of 20 thousand people. Originally 14 countries of the alliance took part in creation of NRF. The greatest contribution is brought by Spain which is ready to give for this purpose 2 thousand soldiers. France sends 1,7 thousand military men. NATO Response Force will have number up to 25 thousand military men which will be capable to go within several days to any "flashpoint".

25 thousand - it's army capable to grasp and keep situation in the small country. Whether it is possible to compare it to CSTO which number today is 12-15 times less?

So, what is it all about? That one more PR-formation for "amusing" doctrines has been created on paper? Whether it is necessary to be surprised that Uzbekistan facing real threat of internal destabilization and external aggression doesn't participate in this action? The more so this country produces arms and military technology mostly by itself, there is an industrial potential kept there, while clap, raw materials for gunpowder could be grown in the territory of the CIS only in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, at that three quarters - in the first. Besides in 1958 by decision of Council of Ministers of the USSR on the basis of uranium deposit Uch-Kuduk in the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic building of industrial complex № 2 started... So what for Tashkent needs "amusing" battalions?

While it's vitally necessary to Moscow to keep Central Asia under its control, as it, in addition, is the major source of strategic raw materials without which in particular the mere existence of the Russian armed forces is brought into question - what armies could be called so without gunpowder, what nuclear forces could exist without uranium sources? No speaking about geopolitical questions.

So, it's necessary to solve these questions adultly, without carrying out of vain actions, it's clear to everybody who observe the process attentively. "Belarus question" here is on the 16th place.

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