Tajikistan Wondering Why It Gets Less Russian Military Aid Than Kyrgyzstan
Tajikistan has seen the massive amount of military aid that Russia has promised Kyrgyzstan, and has decided that it wants in on the windfall. And it's willing to delay the ratification of the Russia-Tajikistan military base agreement signed back in October in order to get it, according to a report in Russian newspaper Kommersant.
Recall that last year, Russia promised a big military aid package to both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, with the former country getting $1.3 billion and the latter $200 million. Tajikistan's aid was part of the deal for a 30-year extension of Russia's lease on the 201st military base. It's not clear why it took so long, but Tajikistan's president, Emomali Rahmon, has now apparently decided that he got a raw deal. From Kommersant:
In the words of Kommersant's source close to the bilateral government commission [working out the base agreement] Dushanbe has raised two additional conditions [to the base deal]. The Tajik side has demanded a formal bilateral agreement based on the verbal agreements reached in October -- on Russia's provision of the means of modernizing Tajikistan's armed forces, and money for the development of its hydroenergy. Moreover, in Dushanbe they have expressed the wish for Moscow to allocate more than the promised $200 million for the rearming of the Tajik army, noting that Russia promised Kyrgyzstan around $1 billion for the analogous purpose.
This comes on top of another delay, imposed by the Tajik side in January. And the Kommersant piece ends with a dark warning:
In Moscow they hope, that Dushanbe will not further drag out the ratification of the base agreement. Regardless of the fact that Russia signed agreements on migrants and fuel products [two other elements of the base deal], they have not yet entered into force, passing through the final bureaucratic procedures. And if it's desired, this process can be extended a long time. And that would not be beneficial to Tajikistan.
It's also of course, not beneficial to Moscow to not have this base agreement nailed down. Will the Kremlin pony up more military aid for Tajikistan? Or has Rahmon overplayed his hand here?
Joshua Kucera is the Turkey/Caucasus editor at Eurasianet, and author of The Bug Pit.
Sign up for Eurasianet's free weekly newsletter.