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What is behind the Uzbekistan’s regional military cooperation: experts

In the framework of the foreign policy strategy aimed at the development of regional cooperation, Uzbekistan is expanding military cooperation with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. In particular, Uzbekistan intends to conclude bilateral agreements on anti-aircraft defense with its neighbors. This was announced today by the Deputy Minister of Defense, the commander of the Air Defense Forces and the Air Force of Uzbekistan, Major-General Ahmad Burkhanov. Russia, as he said, remains an important strategic partner of the republic.

In Tashkent, a regular meeting of the Coordinating Committee on Air Defense under the Council of CIS member states Defense Ministers was held, where the development of unified (combined) regional air defense systems and the interaction of military command agencies were discussed. Uzbekistan, according to Ahmad Burkhanov, is working with neighbors in the region on interaction issues and intends soon to sign a document on bilateral cooperation in the air defense system with Kazakhstan. Similar agreements are planned to be concluded with Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. Russia remains an important strategic partner of Uzbekistan.

"We have pursued an open policy in recent years, we regard the Central Asian region as a priority of our nearest neighbors in all issues, including defense ones," General Burkhanov said.

Military expert Viktor Litovkin explained to EADaily that the air defense system is divided into three areas: western - Russia and Belarus, southern - Armenia and Central Asian - Uzbekistan Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan. "Uzbekistan in addition to the existing agreement on air defense within the CIS, signs bilateral agreements with the countries of the region, while three of them are CSTO members. On the one hand, the meaning of bilateral treaties is that countries on the border with Afghanistan and Iran will have the opportunity to additionally track the flights of air targets over their territory or on the border of their territories. This information will be accumulated, and transferred to the central command post of air defense. That is, Russia will receive this information and, in case of threat, give a command to use certain means to counteract these goals," Litovkin said. Central Asia, according to the expert, gets an additional opportunity to form a regional air defense system. As for the CSTO, the expert believes that this may be a step towards Uzbekistan’s restoring its membership in this organization, but on its own terms.

Head of the Department of Central Asia and Kazakhstan of the Institute of CIS countries, candidate of historical sciences Andrei Grozin asked EADaily whether it means that Central Asia would defend itself replied that in terms of forming a unified air defense system, Central Asia cannot do it by virtue of its financial, technical and organizational circumstances. There are a lot of questions that make difficult this kind of possibility. "The maximum that Kazakhstan has from air defense systems is the S-300, delivered from old stockpiles, partly in payment for the rent of Baikonur Cosmodrome, partly in accordance with bilateral agreements. This is quite an old system," the expert pointed out. - As the experience of Syria has shown, it is effective, but the same Kazakhstani system of air defense system is integrated with the Russian one, and Uzbekistan is guided by bilateral contacts and the expansion of military-technical partnership with the Russian Federation. And here a very wide field opens within the framework of the announced modernization of the Uzbekistan army. Mirziyoyev repeatedly said that he would rebuild the Uzbekistan Armed Forces equipment in all respects, including air defense, but the air defense system is quite expensive.

Here, relying on our own resources, even relying on the old S-200, Oka, and C-125 complexes that Uzbekistan has, it is very difficult to realize financially. On the other hand, it is technologically difficult. Therefore, some kind of integration is needed here. On the one hand, it is to connect regional capacity. The same military-industrial complex of Uzbekistan is not in the best condition now. And this is also recognized in Tashkent and underscored that it is necessary to modernize the defense-industrial complex. It must be done in cooperation with the Russians, in cooperation with the Hindus, with the Chinese, the neighbors. It is necessary to unite efforts. And given the fact that the same Kazakhstani air defense system is integrated with the Russian one, there are a lot of opportunities for Tashkent. On the one hand, expand the partnership with Russia, which is now bilateral. On the other hand, reduce financial risks, technological risks, and other issues.

The same situation around the attack on Syria showed that even the old Soviet iron of air defense systems has serious potential; the main thing is to bring it to mind, to apply new technological solutions for modernization, to apply new financial opportunities. Tashkent has them, and the intention to conclude bilateral agreements with Central Asian countries is justified by the desire on one hand to breathe new life into old iron, and on the other, expand the opportunities for cooperation with neighbors. This decision, if it is implemented, should be assessed only positively," Grozin is sure.

"If this decision is adopted, then it is in line with the policy of Tashkent last year - cooperation with neighboring countries in all directions," Andrei Grozin summed up.

EADaily Central Asian bureau

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