Uzbekistan is squeezing Washington for more money to transport military supplies along the Northern Distribution Network (NDN). On February 1, just days after Uzbek leader Islam Karimov met with NATO representatives in Brussels, Tashkent announced it was raising transit fees for goods headed for Afghanistan via Uzbek railroads. The hike may be punitive, imposed by Karimov in a fit of pique over a disappointing foreign trip, a source suggests.
No representatives from NATO, the Pentagon’s US Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), Uzbek Railways, or the commercial shipper that blew the whistle on the “significant” price hike was prepared to say at this time how much rail tariffs in Uzbekistan have increased.
The revelation comes at the same time the Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General has decided to look into contracting and transit practices all along the NDN. Uzbekistan is a key node on the NDN with large quantities of non-military goods passing through the Termez-Hairaton border crossing with Afghanistan.
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Deirdre Tynan covers Central Asian affairs for EurasiaNet.