The United States intends to transfer combat aircraft and helicopters formerly owned by the Afghan government air force to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The relevant negotiations are allegedly already underway, which was confirmed to the American edition of Politico by sources in the Ministry of Defense and the US Congress.
We are talking about aircraft, including C-208 turboprop aircraft, A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, several UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, as well as Russian Mi-17 and Mi-25. This technique was once transferred to the government of Afghanistan by the Americans. And when the Taliban captured Kabul almost without resistance last August, Afghan pilots who collaborated with the United States fled to neighboring countries on it.
As a result, according to the Pentagon, 46 units of aircraft ended up on the territory of Uzbekistan, and another 18 in Tajikistan.
The Taliban insist that all aircraft are the property of the Islamic Republic and demand their return. The new Afghan authorities have plans to create their own air force, so they expected to get back the stolen planes and helicopters.
However, if Politico is to be believed, the United States has now decided to transfer some of these aircraft (we are talking about 46 aircraft) to the governments of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. But not just like that, but in exchange for an unofficial agreement “on deepening relations in the field of border security and the fight against terrorists.”
The deal, according to the publication, could include anything from expanding intelligence sharing to deploying troops or aircraft in these countries as a regional foothold to monitor terrorist activity in Afghanistan in the long term.
A Politico source at the US Department of Defense noted that both countries “are certainly very interested in getting these aircraft.” At the same time, the Pentagon did not officially confirm the fact of the relevant negotiations, saying that they did not seek the permanent presence of the US Armed Forces in Central Asia.
That’s just Washington, as you know, never does anything for nothing, out of good, exclusively, motives. And although the goals there are often voiced quite good (as in this case, the fight against terrorism), but the interests behind them are always only American.
Whether Dushanbe and Tashkent guess about it is a rhetorical question…
However, in August, Tajikistan provided its territory for the Regional Cooperation 2022 exercise, which was led by the US Central Command and included the US military. Uzbekistan, by the way, also participated in them, and the military from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Pakistan were also involved.
The maneuvers were said to have been carried out with the aim of “strengthening regional security and stability.” But where does the United States, shamefully fled from Afghanistan, where for twenty years, sort of, waged a war against terrorism?
To comment on the situation, “SP” asked political scientist, expert on Central Asian countries Ajdar Kurtov:
– Hard times have come for the United States, which can be seen even from the statements of the American leadership. The president Biden recently made rather harsh statements regarding the fact that the United States will participate in military operations on the side of Taiwan against the People’s Republic of China.
Therefore, the task of America, as I see it, at the present time is to weaken as much as possible a possible alliance between Russia and China. And the countries of Central Asia (in particular, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) are just in the middle of the territory from which communications between Moscow and Beijing can be carried out.
I think this is the main task of Washington – to win over the Central Asian republics with such promises, and somehow harm the emerging communication, as in bilateral relations – between China and Russia. The same is true in multilateral relations within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
But this is not the first step. Similar actions have been taken before by the United States. Another thing, I honestly do not expect much effect from this kind of action.
“SP”: – Why, explain?
– Firstly, it is not always beneficial for Central Asian countries to have various military equipment in their arsenal.
Usually, any weapons are created in such a way that they can give their best in a short period of combat. Therefore, after combat use, this technique requires some repair. And if this equipment is American, then there will be serious problems with the supply of spare parts.
So the needs of the Central Asian republics, in particular Tajikistan, in armaments will be met through military-technical cooperation with the Russian Federation.
Yes, there are nuances that this is partly about Russian-made helicopters that were once supplied to the government of Afghanistan – they are also going to be transferred. But here the leadership of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan needs to think very hard whether these gifts are worth a strategically more important relationship, both with Moscow and Beijing.
Although I do not exclude anything.
The policy of the Central Asian countries of the post-Soviet period was to get the maximum possible from cooperation with various geopolitical centers of power. The current circumstances, however, are connected with another country – with Kazakhstan, which, seemingly unexpectedly for Moscow, blocks the transit of goods that fell under Western sanctions, clearly at the instigation of either the Americans or the EU.
The leadership of the Central Asian republics has always tried to sit on several chairs. Therefore, it is impossible to exclude a variety of options. But, by and large, this military equipment will not play a serious role, even if it enters service with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
This will not greatly strengthen their defenses. In addition, the national armed forces still need to be taught how to use it. These are also additional big problems.
“SP”: – Washington’s generosity is more like a symbolic gesture. As well as the military maneuvers with the Americans that took place on the territory of Tajikistan in August in order to “strengthen regional security and stability.” Hasn’t Russia been providing security in the region for many years?
– This is true. Nevertheless, there have been, are and will be attempts to drive a wedge between Russia and the leadership of the Central Asian republics in terms of military and military-technical cooperation.
Let me remind you that at one time Russian border guards guarded the Afghan-Central Asian borders – and Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. Then, not without the instigation of the United States, they left at the request of the national governments. Which led to well-known circumstances – in particular, to an increase in the flow of drugs from Afghanistan to the Russian Federation and further to Europe.
In addition, relations with Tajikistan in the military-technical and military fields in the post-Soviet period were not so cloudless. Dushanbe from time to time made claims against Russia – in particular, demanded the possibility of its own leadership of those units of the 201st Russian division, which is stationed on the territory of Tajikistan. I tried to bargain for the Okno space tracking complex in the Pamirs. And on some other issues.
Therefore, in general, despite the fact that Russia supports the security of Tajikistan, of course, from time to time the Tajik leadership seeks, wherever possible, to show its independence and independence.
Recent military clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are clear evidence of this. Yes, both states are members of the CSTO and, nevertheless, what we all saw is happening.
The United States does not hide the fact that they aim at the collapse of Russia. How did they destroy the Soviet Union? On a national basis – that is, due to the growth of nationalist sentiments. Here, the same stake is probably being placed on creating difficulties in the Central Asian region – through the growth of nationalism, to undermine the unity of the CSTO and bilateral ties between Russia and the countries of Central Asia. Central Asian countries and China.
“SP”: – Do they want to kindle another fire on the border with Russia?
“I don’t think they will be able to ignite any large-scale conflict, I think. The fact is that in economic terms, the states of Central Asia are very dependent on both Moscow and Beijing. And they don’t like confrontation. It is obvious that the United States is economically unable to replace China and Russia. Products from the Central Asian countries are of no interest to the United States, so it is simply not necessary to expect an increase in trade between Washington and these states.
But the States can create certain difficulties. Nationalism, after all, which is typical, if it succeeds, it does not take into account anything, including economic expediency. Ukraine just testifies to this. The radical nationalists who came to power there are destroying the industry and agriculture of the country, regardless of the fact that it was much more profitable to maintain economic ties between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.
Therefore, the States are betting precisely on the destabilization of the situation, so that everything burns with fire, as they say.
* The Taliban is an organization under UN sanctions for terrorist activities.