WASHINGTON – It appears that the U.S. military and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are reneging on future cooperation with a competitor, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, on such issues as drug-trafficking from Afghanistan in Central Asia, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
There are some 11 joint projects in which the Russians want future cooperation between NATO and the CSTO, but NATO and especially the U.S. have balked at the idea due to concerns over the expansion of Russian influence in the region.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it known that he envisions all of Central Asia to be included in a customs-free Eurasian Union, which could conflict with interests the United States has developed in Central Asia since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Developments in Central Asia are once again becoming a contest for influence between Moscow and Washington.
Putin critics say that the Eurasian Union is a smokescreen for the Russian president’s desire to re-create the Soviet Union.
For years, the U.S. has used such countries as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan in waging the war in Afghanistan and has designs to maintain a presence in the region once U.S. and NATO combat troops depart the country at the end of 2014.
Now – in what may be considered somewhat of a split with Moscow – Uzbekistan has decided to continue allowing its territory to be used by U.S. soldiers after they depart Afghanistan next year. Uzbekistan was a member of the CSTO but has since dropped out.
Yet, Uzbekistan had told the Russians last December that it intended to maintain military neutrality. However, sources say that Tashkent in fact is quite concerned with its own security and believes it could increasingly be at risk once NATO withdraws from Afghanistan.
The Russians have gotten an agreement with Tajikistan to allow Russia to keep its military base there, and has extracted preferential conditions for the duty-free import of Russian oil products and to allow Tajik migrant laborers to stay in Russia, which would provide much-needed hard currency for this poor country.
The U.S. wants to try and set up a base in Tajikistan, which has upset Moscow. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, however, tend to lean more toward Moscow, even though both countries are allowing the U.S. to use their territory to allow NATO troops to pass through as they depart Afghanistan. Problems are appearing between Russia and Kazakhstan, which makes Kyrgyzstan all the more closer to Moscow.
Kazakhstan is part of Moscow’s Eurasian Union, which means they will continue to collaborate, even though Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital, wants more concessions on oil imports from Russia. Recently, Kazakh officials hinted that they may modernize their oil refineries from Western sources in an effort to trade with other countries and to become less dependent on Russian oil products.
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