Despite its long-avowed status as a neutral nation, Turkmenistan is playing an important supporting role for US and NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan. Washington and Ashgabat are both keen to keep Turkmenistan’s strategic role low-key, especially the financial aspects of cooperation.
What is known is that the US government and its contractors do not pay taxes on fuel intended for military use that is purchased in Turkmenistan, as well as in Azerbaijan. Fuel is exempt from local duties and taxes due to Turkmenistan’s and Azerbaijan’s participation in the NATO Partnership for Peace program, a spokeswoman for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the Pentagon’s main procurement arm, told EurasiaNet.org.
Initial enquiries to the US Embassy in Ashgabat about tax arrangements for US contractors buying fuel in support of Operation Enduring Freedom elicited denials that such tax break were available. However, in late December, Michelle McCaskill, a DLA spokeswoman, confirmed that fuel bought in Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are “delivered free of all duties and taxes.”
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Deirdre Tynan is a Bishkek-based reporter specializing in central Asian affairs.