Archive for the ‘former Soviet’ Category

Russia Worries US Plans New Bases in Central Asia

December 16, 2008

Russia‘s top military officer warned that Moscow felt threatened by U.S. policy in ex-Soviet Central Asia and claimed that Washington was attempting to establish new military bases there, news agencies reported Tuesday.

Gen. Nikolai Makarov, the chief of the Russian military’s general staff, said Washington planned to establish a foothold in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, Interfax and ITAR-Tass reported. U.S. officials denied there were plans.

Makarov also said U.S. support for bids by Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO made Russia feel threatened. He cast doubt that relations between the countries would improve under Barack Obama.

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press Writer

“According to our information, it (the U.S.) is planning to establish military bases in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan,” Makarov was quoted as saying. He did not elaborate.

“That’s news to me. I don’t think that’s true,” U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday.

The Kremlin welcomed initial U.S. deployments in Central Asia to support the war in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, but later grew impatient about the U.S. military presence in the strategic, energy-rich region as ties soured.

The U.S. set up bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan is now the sole U.S. outpost in the volatile region, though U.S. forces are believed to have some access to an Uzbek base through a NATO arrangement.

Molly Stephenson, spokeswoman at the U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan, said the U.S. had no plans to set up a permanent base. “Opening a base in Uzbekistan is not on the U.S. agenda,” she told AP. “No such request has been made.”

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