Is Tashkent clearing the decks for the US?

A crew chief guides in a C-17A Globemaster III at Khashi-Karanabad air base in Uzbekistan on Dec. 16 2005. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Steven Pearsall)

By Dr Nicholas Redman, Senior Fellow for Geopolitical Risk and Economic Security

Uzbekistan has once again suspended its membership of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, the alliance of former Soviet states that also includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Tashkent is saying it took this step because it wishes to develop relations with Afghanistan bilaterally, rather than as part of the CSTO bloc, and because it opposes efforts to deepen military cooperation within the CSTO.

Yet Uzbekistan’s fellow CSTO members suspect the decision has more to do with a wish by President Islam Karimov to reopen the Karshi-Khanabad air base to US forces.

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Russia: the return of Putin

Vladimir Putin voting in the Russian presidential elections. Photo: Government of the Russian Federation
By Dr Nicholas Redman, Senior Fellow for Geopolitical Risk and Economic Security

In his victory speech, delivered before the official result of Russia’s presidential election was announced, Vladimir Putin denounced efforts to ‘destroy Russian statehood and usurp power’. This was not the only time that he equated opposition to him with treachery to the Russian state.

With the elections over, bar the inevitable protests in a few cities, perhaps the narrative of Western powers scheming to undermine Russia will be toned down. But don’t bet on it. The Putin government’s understanding of what is happening in the Middle East right now, and its calculation of national interest there, are utterly at odds with those of Western and Arab states.

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