Kyrgyzstan determines foreign policy vector in favor of Russia
Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept. 21 / Trend V. Zhavoronkova/
Kyrgyzstan determined its foreign policy vector in favor of Russia, the U.S. expert on Central Asia Bruce Pannier believes.
"For many reasons Kyrgyzstan is demonstrating that Russia will be its big power ally for the near future," expert wrote Trend via e-mail on Friday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Kyrgyzstan on Thursday, when the two countries came to a number of agreements including such important strategic issues as military bases, Kyrgyz foreign debt and regional water problem.
Pannier believes that the first and most obvious reason for demonstrating being big strategic partner of Russia for Kyrgyzstan is the writing off of Bishkek's debt to Moscow.
"Admittedly, $489 million is a small amount to the Russian government but it is a huge amount for Kyrgyzstan," he said.
Second, and probably more important issue, Pannier believes is that Putin reminded Atambayev and the Kyrgyz government that the security situation in Central Asia is about the change.
He said the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, for example, is very active in northern Afghanistan for the last couple of years and once Afghan government troops assume responsibility for security they will hardly have the manpower or resources to worry about militants leaving Afghanistan for Central Asia.
"The United States is not going to commit any combat troops to prop up Central Asian governments and is more likely to disengage from the region for a while, expert said.
He added that none of the Central Asian governments want to depend on China for security guarantees as they are afraid of being absorbed into China.
"That leaves Russia, the traditional power of the region for some two centuries and probably the only power that would actually commit military forces to Central Asia," Pannier stressed.
He believes, that the Kant base in Kyrgyzstan and 201st Division in Tajikistan are proof of Russia's interest in Central Asian security.
"The West will stay engaged with Kyrgyzstan and the other Central Asian states but I think the experience in Afghanistan has convinced many Western governments that Central Asia really is in Russia's backyard and they would prefer that Russia be responsible for providing security in that region," expert added.