Post-Soviet security bloc not aware of US’ Central Asia plans

December 18th, 2008 - 9:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Dec 18 (RIA Novosti) The post-Soviet security bloc has no idea about US plans of setting up possible new military bases in Central Asia, the head of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) said Thursday.A senior Russian military official Tuesday said there were information that the US was considering to set up new military bases in former Soviet republics such as Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan.

“This is the first time I have heard about the deployment of such bases, and I cannot confirm this information,” Nikolai Bordyuzha, general secretary of CSTO, said.

“Any such decision will have to be agreed on with the CSTO. And the Secretariat has received no such notification,” Bordyuzha said.

The CSTO is a security grouping comprising the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

General Nikolai Makarov, chief of the General Staff of Russia’s Armed Forces, Tuesday said according to his information, “the US has plans to establish military bases in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan after Romania and Bulgaria”.

The press secretary of the US embassy in Uzbekistan, however, said Thursday that Washington had no plans to deploy any military bases in the Central Asian country.

The Kazakh defence ministry also denied any knowledge of US plans to deploy military bases in the country.

“We know nothing about such plans, and we cannot confirm this information,” a ministry source said.

Former Soviet republics in Central Asia have been the focus of increased rivalry between Moscow and Washington of late.

The US has recently stepped up ties with oil-rich Kazakhstan, which allowed US planes to fly over its territory during the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan and also contributed troops to Iraq.

Observers in Russia say that Washington will need more bases in countries neighbouring Afghanistan due to president-elect Barack Obama’s plans to increase the US military presence in the war-ravaged country by 20,000 troops.

The US has run an airbase in Kyrgyzstan since the war in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan expelled US troops from its airbase in 2005, but has recently sought closer ties with Washington and other Western powers.

The Russian Army chief has also blamed Washington for pushing Georgia and Ukraine towards NATO membership in an attempt to surround Russia by the NATO forces.

The statement came amid an ongoing dispute over Washington’s plans to place a missile shield in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic. Moscow opposes the plans as a threat to its national security. But the US insists the missile defences are needed to counter possible strikes from “rogue” states like Iran.

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