Libmonster ID: UZ-774

Over the past two decades, Central Asia has been perceived as a "belt of instability". The events that took place in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in the spring of 2005 may have marked the beginning of a crucial stage in the formation of a new political and, in the near future, economic configuration in the region.

After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the young post-Soviet states had many claims against each other, primarily economic and territorial. The result was a deterioration of political relations between them. The newly formed states were more interested in contacts with non-CIS countries than with their neighbors - the former republics of the USSR. One of the reasons for this situation is the desire to attract foreign investment for the development of their state.


Central Asia was not one of the priorities of Russian foreign policy in the 1990s. The only active area of cooperation between Russia and the states of the region during this period was cooperation in the field of security. The presence of such politically unstable states as Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and the possible confluence of their conflict-related potentials, threatened to create a vast "belt of instability"on Russia's southern borders.

Russia deliberately assumed responsibility for maintaining stability in this region, although this role was quite difficult for Russia at that time. The Russian military presence could contain some conflicts, but it was unable to fully control or stop them. However, no one wanted or could share the burden of peacekeeping and border protection with Russia. Western countries were wary of being drawn into conflicts with unpredictable outcomes, including the military conflict in Tajikistan and regular attacks by militants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

Russia's loss of influence in Central Asia in the early 1990s led to a mass exodus of the non-indigenous (Russian) and partly indigenous population of the region.

The course of maintaining stability in the region would be much more successful if it were supported by active cooperation between Russia and Central Asian states in the economic sphere. The situation of the Russian-speaking population would also be better off if the Russian Federation helped to improve business conditions in Central Asia, create new jobs, and strengthen Russian cultural influence.


The United States initially chose Uzbekistan as its strategic partner in Central Asia. This may have been unexpected, since in the early 1990s the Clinton administration's attitude towards Uzbekistan was critical due to the policy of countering market reforms pursued, in the opinion of the United States, by President Islam Karimov, the preservation of the Soviet economic model, as well as too close relations with Russia.

The situation began to change by the mid-1990s. Analysts in the White House decided that Uzbekistan could well play the role of a "regional hegemon." 1 This is facilitated by the presence of such factors as a stable cultural and historical tradition, the largest population in the region, and the largest army in the former Soviet Central Asia. In turn, Uzbekistan, sensing the interest of the United States, began to actively move away from Moscow and position itself as a counterweight to Russia in the region.

Tashkent's relations with Moscow and Washington over the past decade have been like a pendulum moving from Moscow to Washington and back again. The following periods can be distinguished in the fluctuations of this pendulum::

1) June 1996-Summer 1999 Initially, Tashkent's turn toward Washington dates back to June 1996, when President Islam Karimov paid his first visit to the United States. During this visit, he was given to understand that the United States views Uzbekistan as its strategic partner in Central Asia. Following this, the United States began to invest heavily in-

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invest in the Uzbek economy. In 1997, US investment reached $ 800 million, and other investment projects totaling $ 2 billion were discussed. 2

Uzbek-American relations reached their greatest rapprochement in April 1999, when Uzbekistan was admitted to GUAM at the 50th anniversary of NATO in Washington, thus becoming GU UR. In response, Uzbekistan withdrew from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in May 1999.

2) summer 1999-summer 2000 In January 2000, the American position on Uzbekistan changed dramatically. The official reason was the parliamentary elections held in the country in December 1999, which the US State Department described as" not free and unfair", although even on the eve of the elections, the Karimov regime was considered almost"the engine of democratization in Central Asia" 3 .

It is obvious that such a radical turn in the attitude of Tashkent could not be connected only with the elections, since the political system of Uzbekistan has not changed in essence during this period.

The change in mood in Washington was most likely caused by the movement of the Uzbek "pendulum" towards Moscow, which was clearly marked in the summer of 1999, when, with the help of Russia, it was possible to expel militants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan who invaded the territory of the republic from Kyrgyzstan.

In November 1999, Russia and four Central Asian states - Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan - conducted large-scale military exercises aimed at working out cooperation in destroying gangs that had infiltrated the Ferghana Valley.

In December 1999, Vladimir Putin (then Prime Minister) and Islam Karimov signed an agreement on military-technical cooperation in Tashkent.

The spring and summer of 2000 were characterized by intensive bilateral military cooperation. During this period, Uzbekistan even took part in the "Southern Shield of the Commonwealth" maneuvers on the territory of Tajikistan together with the participants of the Collective Security Treaty, despite the fact that it was no longer a member of the CSTO 4 .

3) autumn 2000-end of 2004. In the autumn of 2000, the Uzbek "pendulum" swung back to the United States. Tashkent began to avoid meetings at the regional level and within the framework of the CIS. This was due to the increased US military assistance to Uzbekistan. The events of September 11, 2001 and the subsequent operation against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan gave the Uzbek "pendulum" a sharp acceleration in the direction of the United States. In January 2002, two U.S. military bases were established in Uzbekistan .5

In March 2002, the new Uzbek-American strategic partnership was officially established: the two countries signed a Declaration on the Foundations of Strategic Partnership and Cooperation. As proof of its intentions, the US Congress granted Uzbekistan $ 161 million in gratuitous aid in 2002.6 Nevertheless, the US continued to criticize Uzbekistan for its persecution of political opponents and so-called "non-traditional Muslims", i.e. Wahhabis, as well as for restrictions on freedom of speech. Despite this criticism, Uzbekistan continued to receive U.S. financial assistance. However, the parties ' dissatisfaction with each other was growing. This was caused by a number of reasons.


First. Tashkent's calculations for large financial benefits from supporting the US anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan have not been fully justified. According to the agreements, the annual US fee for the use of military bases in Uzbekistan was $ 55 million, including the lease of two Boeing airliners. Thus, from October 2001 (when the agreement on the deployment of American units in Uzbekistan was signed) to the present, the United States has paid the republic about $ 200 million. At the same time, according to the Uzbek senator from Kashkadarya region N. Zainiev, the cost of the country's government to operate the Khanabad base amounted to $ 168 million. According to him, the base management did not make any material expenses related to the creation of the necessary infrastructure, security, flight operations, and compensation for damage caused to the population living near the airfield. Zainiev also said that the United States did not pay 800 thousand dollars for the consumption of water base 7 .

The second one. U.S. criticism of the Uzbek leadership was growing. Now it concerned not only the observance of human rights in the republic. Washington expressed dissatisfaction with the economic policy pursued in Uzbekistan, namely::

- increased state interference in the activities of foreign companies (they are required to open only one bank account in the republic, from which taxes can be forcibly withdrawn, as well as quarterly go reports-

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half of foreign currency export earnings) 8 ;

- high rates of taxation of salaries of employees of foreign companies (the salary of foreign employees is subject to a 30% tax duty; the salary of local residents working in a foreign company is subject to a 45% income tax if it amounts to more than $ 1,200 per year) 9 ;

- non-free conversion of local currency;

- corruption;

- untimely provision of various types of information - legal, statistical, marketing, etc. 10

Third. In 2003, Tashkent began active negotiations with the Russian company Gazprom on gas purchases in Uzbekistan.

4) End of 2003-2005 At the end of 2003, the Uzbek foreign policy "pendulum" swung back to Russia. This was explained by the proposal that the Russian side made to Uzbekistan regarding the prospects for real economic cooperation, which the United States could not offer. They discussed concrete steps to implement agreements such as:

- An agreement signed in December 2003 between Uzbekneftegaz and Gazprom on long-term gas purchases in Uzbekistan in 2003-2012, joint implementation of gas production projects (development of the Shakhpakhty field) and development of the republic's gas transmission system;

- an agreement signed in June 2004 between Uzbekneftegaz and LUKoil on the development of the Kandym Group, Khauzak and Shady fields in the Bukhara-Khiva and Hissar regions of Uzbekistan;

- Purchase in July 2004 by the Russian financial and investment group Soyuzneftegaz of a controlling stake in UzPEK Limited, a subsidiary of Trinity Energy, established in 2001 specifically for the exploration and development of oil and gas fields in two " blocks "in the South-West Hissar and Ustyurt regions of Uzbekistan. 11

Relations between Uzbekistan and the United States were further complicated by the expulsion of the Soros Foundation from the republic in late 2003,12 and the official warning issued by the Ministry of Justice in early 2004 to three American non - governmental organizations working in the republic-the National Democratic Institute of International Relations, the International Republican Institute, and the independent human rights organization Freedom House. The reason for this was the close contacts of these organizations with several opposition parties in Uzbekistan, in particular, "Erk" ("Volya"), "Birlik" ("Unity") and "Ozod dekhkonlar" ("Free Peasants"). These parties were denied official registration, so they were unable to participate in the December 2004 elections to the Uzbek Parliament. According to the Ministry of Justice of Uzbekistan, the activities of these organizations were "non-transparently funded" by American organizations and were aimed at spreading subjective socio-political and economic information about the republic. 13

In response to these actions, the US Congress reduced financial assistance to Tashkent by $ 18 million in 200414 (in 2003, financial assistance from various agencies amounted to about $ 86 million 15).

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The events in Andijan in May 2005, and especially their foreign policy implications, confirm that the movement of the Uzbek "pendulum" towards Russia promises to be prolonged. Moreover, there is a possibility that the Uzbek "pendulum" will stop at Russia.


The leading world powers and international organizations reacted differently to the Andijan events. A number of Western countries expressed a strong negative opinion. For example, British Foreign Secretary David Straw accused the Uzbek authorities of "... obvious violation of human rights, lack of democracy and openness " 16 .

NATO has called on the Uzbek authorities to allow an international independent investigation into the events in Andijan. NATO ministers even discussed the situation with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov to try to put pressure on President Islam Karimov.

Sergei Ivanov said in response that Russia opposes conducting international investigations in Uzbekistan. "NATO," he said, " can do something separately, this is their sovereign right. Under the flag of the Russia - NATO Council, we will not commit ourselves. The investigation should be conducted by the prosecutor's office, the Uzbek authorities, and they have already involved international officials in Uzbekistan, including Russian ones. " 17

Official Washington reacted to the events rather cautiously. According to US State Department spokesman Robert Boucher, "... the Uzbek people can express grievances against their government, but only in a peaceful way. " 18

Given Washington's previous criticism of the Uzbek leadership, such a restrained position of the US administration might seem strange. But in fact, it was quite understandable: despite criticism of I. Karimov's domestic policy, the United States is not interested in the rise to power of fundamentalist forces in Uzbekistan and the emergence of chaos in the region.

Thus, the only state that unconditionally supported the actions of the Uzbek authorities was Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explicitly stated that "... any self-respecting state is obliged to stop such attempts, realizing its responsibility for the country's security. " 19

In the context of these events, the joint Uzbek-Russian military exercises that took place in September 2005 became particularly important. They were planned a year ago during the visit of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov to Tashkent, but their implementation immediately after the crisis in the republic gave them political significance and served as a sign of Moscow's support for Tashkent's actions.

Uzbekistan engaged in the exercise army units that took part in operations to eliminate armed groups of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in the Sariasi district of Surkhandarya 20 .

Currently, the national army of Uzbekistan is armed with Soviet and Russian-made equipment, so the troops are constantly in need of small arms, ammunition for artillery installations and multiple launch rocket systems. Russia sells tens of millions of rubles ' worth of ammunition, air defense systems and spare parts to Uzbekistan 21 .

Thus, Russia is clearly making it clear to Tashkent that it considers it not only as an economic, but also as a military partner. However, Uzbekistan is not yet a member of the Collective Security Treaty. However, there is a possibility that his position on this issue will change soon. This is evidenced, in particular, by the withdrawal of Uzbekistan from the GUUAM organization in the spring of 2005, as well as the introduction of restrictions on the use of the US Karshi-Khanabad air base*, which forced the United States to relocate its military aircraft to Bagram base in Afghanistan .22

However, most of all, the decisions taken at the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) meeting held in Astana in July 2005 indicate a radical change in the course of I. Karimov.


The SCO summit can be called historic, because the SCO was the only international organization that immediately and unequivocally supported the actions of President Islam Karimov, saying that"the events in Andijan are the work of terrorists." 23

The results of the summit outlined geopolitical shifts in Central Asia, which may occur in the near future. These shifts include the following.

First, the reduction of the presence of "extra-regional forces" in Central Asia (which clearly means the NATO military presence in the region).

The final declaration of the summit notes that the members of the organization "consider it necessary, taking into account the completion of the active phase of the anti - terrorist operation in Afghanistan, that the relevant members of the coalition decide on the end dates for the temporary use of infrastructure facilities and the presence of military contingents in the territories of the SCO member states"24 .

Obviously, we are talking about the withdrawal of two American military bases in Uzbekistan (the Karshi-Khanabad air base and the former Soviet tank training ground in the Termez region) and an air base in Kyrgyzstan (Manas). The number of coalition troops in Central Asia is small - about 1,000 in Uzbekistan and about 1,200 in Kyrgyzstan .25 But the number doesn't matter in this case - the SCO opposes the very presence of these forces in the region.

The SCO members believe that " the tasks of localization and

* In August 2005, the Uzbek leadership officially requested the United States to evacuate the Khanabad base within 180 days. The Americans consider these deadlines unrealistic, although, according to a bilateral intergovernmental agreement, the base's activities are terminated if one of the parties so wishes and gives 180 days ' notice of its intention.

page 13

The relevant structures of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the SCO are now able to neutralize the remnants of extremists who enter the region from Afghanistan. " 26

Second, Iran, Pakistan and India joined the SCO as observers at the Astana summit. The United States also sought observer status in the SCO, but members of the organization considered this impractical .27 This fact confirms that, in the opinion of the SCO member states, the presence of the United States in the region is undesirable.

The accession of the above-mentioned countries to the SCO, even if only as observers, is of great importance for raising the status of this international organization. As it was stated, now the countries participating in the SCO activities in one way or another make up "half of humanity"in the aggregate. The backbone of the organization is the world's largest powers-Russia and China, as well as, in the future, India.

The most important factor is also Iran's accession to the SCO, although still as an observer. This event takes on particular significance, given the information war currently being waged against Tehran by the United States, seeking to put an end to Iranian nuclear research and projects and planning a possible military operation against Iran in this regard.

In this context, the issue of creating a military structure of the SCO included in the summit agenda becomes extremely relevant.

The obvious strengthening of Russian influence in the post-Soviet space, in particular in Central Asia, cannot but cause concern in Washington. The US Senate has proposed to convene an " international conference to promote democracy in this region." In this regard, the Senate Appropriations Committee intends to allocate a total of $ 86 million in 2006 for programs to promote democracy and economic reform in the CIS countries (primarily in Central Asia and Belarus).28

The theory of" exporting democracy", which the United States is trying to implement in the post-Soviet space, is unlikely to be implemented in Central Asian states, since Western-type democracy is not typical for Eastern societies in historical terms and, consequently, for Eastern mental states.? generally. Russian political scientists concluded as early as the mid-1990s that " ... Central Asia will not soon have (if at all) an alternative to the current model of state power based on one-party rule and the fight against dissent."29 Therefore, the US desire to achieve the democratization of Central Asian regimes as a condition of military-economic partnership or in exchange for financial assistance seems counterproductive. This is a tactic that the United States has pursued in cooperation with Uzbekistan for the past 10 years, and it is now clear that it has failed.

The United States considers opposition forces to be the main force in countering the existing regimes in Central Asia. However, the organized opposition in the Central Asian states either does not exist at all, or is unable (and often does not seek) to gain power.

This is partly confirmed by the development of the situation in Kyrgyzstan during the recent change of government. Those who came to power in this republic, in fact, were not oppositionists. The new President of Kyrgyzstan, K. Bakiyev, was a member of the Kyrgyz Parliament and Prime Minister under President A. Akayev. What happened in Kyrgyzstan should rather be considered not a revolution, but a kind of power castling caused by a certain combination of circumstances.

It seems that the United States is not fully aware of the unpredictability of the development of the most minor conflicts in the Central Asian region.

Thus, the Kyrgyz events, undoubtedly sponsored and initiated by the United States, began to unfold, according to the director of the Institute of the United States and Canada of the Russian Academy of Sciences S. Rogov, "contrary to the scenario prescribed by Washington." The expert believes that American politicians did not expect that the "bazaar will be held on Bishkek Square"30, did not plan to seize the Government House of Kyrgyzstan , and, moreover, did not expect such an unexpected reaction to the events of both the authorities and the grassroots.

Let us emphasize once again that attempts to destabilize the situation in Central Asia, no matter where they come from and no matter what their goals are, are dangerous-

page 14

not dangerous. Progress in this region is possible only in conditions of stability.


Russia's policy in Central Asia at this stage seems to be more thoughtful. Its main idea is equal cooperation with each state of the region individually, as well as within the SCO in all areas (political, economic, military). Today, Moscow is taking into account the miscalculations of Russia's foreign policy in Central Asia in the 1990s. It does not try to exert political pressure on the Central Asian states, nor does it demand that the necessary political and economic reforms be carried out in these states, from the Russian point of view. Russia's position can be described as cautious and constructive.

It seems that now, at last, there is a period when the political line chosen by Russia is beginning to bear fruit. We have already mentioned the intensification of political, economic and military-technical cooperation between Russia and the Central Asian states, in particular, with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. But these are precisely the countries in the region where the United States counted on the maximum success of its "democratic mission".

The situation in these countries has developed in such a way that both the successful change of power in Kyrgyzstan and the failed one in Uzbekistan led to an increase in Russian influence in these republics and, accordingly, to a weakening of American influence in the region as a whole.

The change of power in Kyrgyzstan was limited to a change of leader, behind which there is no regime change, no change in the country's political and economic course. This is evidenced by the statement of the new president immediately after his election, in which he confirmed the status of Russia as the most important strategic partner of Kyrgyzstan .31

The failed attempt to change the government in Uzbekistan led to a sharp turn in the Uzbek foreign policy course towards Russia.

Thus, Russia has been able to take advantage of the current political situation in the region to gradually change the balance of political forces in Central Asia in its favor.


Laumulin M. 1 On the law of the pendulum / / Continent, N 11 (138). Alma-Ata. June 1-14, 2005.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

Bhadrakumar M. K. 4 The "Talibanization" of Central Asia // Central Asia Times. Hong Kong. 12.05.05.

Laumulin M. 5 On the law of the pendulum...

6 Ibid.

Ivanov V., Plugatarev I. 7 Throw from Moscow to Khanabad. Who needs an Uzbek outpost? // Independent Military Review, No. 34 (443). 09.09.05.

Rasulev A., Alimov R. 8 Strukturnye transformatsii i povyshenie konkurentosposobnosti ekonomiki Uzbekistanii [Structural transformations and improving the competitiveness of the economy of Uzbekistan]. Moscow. 2003, No. 6, pp. 193-213.

9 Ibid.

Laumulin M. 10 According to the law of the pendulum...

Fayzullayev 11 Turkmenistan: strategy and tactics of gas resource development / / Asia and Africa today. 2005, No. 1, p. 23.

Dubnov A. 12 Americans are asked to leave / / Vremya novostei. 06.05.05; Zhukov T. Seen in defamatory relationships // Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 31.05.04.

Zhukov T. 13 Are seen in discrediting relationships...

Laumulin M. 14 According to the law of the pendulum...

Zhukov T. 15 Are seen in discrediting relationships...

Streshnev R. 16 Ferghana fault / / Krasnaya zvezda. 17.05.05.

17 Uzbekistan refused to participate in the meeting with NATO ministers / / Materials of the Reuters agency, 17.05.05. -

Streshnev R. 18 Ferghana fault...

19 Ibid.

Plugatarev I. 20 Armiya suppressed the rebellion / / Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie [Independent Military Review]. 20.05.05. -

21 Ibid.

Leontiev M. 22 Materials of the TV program "However" from 29.06.05. -

23 SCO: events in Andijan - the handiwork of terrorists / / Materials of RIA "RosBusinessConsulting", 20.05.05. -

Dubnov A. 24 Americans are asked to leave...

25 Ibid.

26 Ibid.

Kaftan L. 27 Which are "orange" here? Get down!" // Komsomolskaya Pravda. 06.05.05. -

Dubnov A. 28 Hollywood will glorify" nomad " Nazarbayev // News time. 07.07.05.

Nikonov V. 29 Politika Rossii v Tsentral'noi Azii [Russia's Policy in Central Asia]. 1977, N 8. - Sweden. -

30 After Kyrgyzstan, the United States realized that it is not worth playing with Russia / / Materials of RIA Novosti, 20.04.05. -

31 Bakiyev declares the importance of relations with Russia / / Materials of RIA Novosti, 10.07.05. -


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