Archive for the ‘Kyrgyzstan’ Category

Analysts: Russia outmaneuvered U.S. over air base

March 14, 2009

When Kyrgyzstan announced in February that it was expelling a U.S. air base after Russia promised it $2 billion-plus in aid and loans, American officials said the decision wasn’t final and a U.S. presence was still under discussion.

After the Kyrgyz parliament ratified the accord with near unanimity and the country’s Foreign Ministry issued a notice to vacate in 180 days, however, Russia’s apparent advance at U.S. expense is almost certain.


The aid package that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s government crafted was grounded in a hard-knuckled, realpolitik approach to this impoverished, landlocked Central Asian country.

It appears to be an offer the Kyrgyz government couldn’t refuse. All the elements, starting with what had seemed to be its most modest component — a $150 million strings-free grant to Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev — filled needs that the U.S. either didn’t see or wouldn’t match.

While the Bush administration championed democratic reform in Central Asia, a policy that deeply alienates strongman rulers in the corruption-plagued region, Putin has focused on putting cash on the table and making deals.

The Manas Air Base — which is at the main airport outside the Kyrgyz capital and is used mainly to ferry troops in and out of Afghanistan — became a sore spot for the Kremlin in the years after the U.S. set it up in late 2001, Russian and Kyrgyz officials acknowledge.

Putin had smoothed the way for U.S. military installations to be built across Central Asia in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but he felt that the Bush White House barely acknowledged the gesture.

“What Bush offered Putin was a hat and a barbecue in Crawford, and that was it,” said Alexei Pushkov, a prominent Russian TV commentator with extensive contacts in Moscow political circles.

Anger turned to suspicion as the White House backed a series of pro-democracy revolutions in what Russia calls its “near abroad”: Georgia in 2003, Ukraine the following year and Kyrgyzstan in 2005. Plans for a U.S. missile-defense shield on Russia’s borders followed those political upheavals.

While the U.S. government said those developments had nothing to do with Moscow, there was deep suspicion in the Kremlin that the Americans had begun a strategy of encircling Russia. Putin and his government began to push back against U.S. interests in Central Asia, wanting to be sure that they and not Washington were the ones calling the shots.

“Russia enjoys the role of a gatekeeper. It’s trying to defend this. It’s eager to spend huge money in order to keep its geopolitical and geostrategic role,” said Nikolai Petrov, scholar in residence at the Carnegie Moscow Center and a critic of Putin.

The Kyrgyz, meanwhile, came to see advantage in the U.S.-Russia competition.

“It’s a political game,” said Erik Arsaliyev, the chairman of the Kyrgyz parliament’s foreign-affairs committee. “No one is saying it, but everyone knows that’s what’s happening. We have become a puppet in the hands of these two countries.”

The small nation of just 5.3 million people, wedged between China and Kazakhstan, has long been a crossroads for great powers. Bishkek today is home to both faded Soviet monuments and the American University of Central Asia.

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Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists

March 9, 2009

Like it or not, the era of President Barack Obama and American weakness, real or perceived, has already emboldened many nations with long-term anti-American strategic goals: namely, Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

Many in the world have already concluded that Brack Obama is soft, for his overtures so far toward the Taliban, Russia, Iran and others.

Various Views On Obama Foreign Policy: “Just Like Bush” Or Radical Change?

President Obama’s move to close the terrorist prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (Gitmo) was cause for applause in human rights circles and also with terrorists.

On Afghanistan, Peter Begen of the New America Foundation said “It is a longstanding cliché that there is no military solution in Afghanistan, only a political one.”  On President Obama’s idea to hold talks with the Taliban he said, “Doing deals with the Taliban today could further destabilize Afghanistan. ”

And economically, there is no dobt that the U.S. is weakened.

Just today, North Korea threatened war with the United States — a war that would certainly involve Japan and South Korea.  North Korea could not be making such threats and could not even think about testing a long range strategic missile just now unless China consented to this brazen move or at least looked the other way.  China supplies North Korea with almost all of its food, oil, luxury goods and currency.  Without China, North Korea would be impotent and meaningless.

Yet China is acceding to North Korea’s bluster and browbeating of the United States just as China itself is harassing a U.S. Naval vessel in international waters — a violation of international law.

This US Navy file photo shows the military Sealift Command ocean ... 
This US Navy file photo shows the military Sealift Command ocean surveillance ship USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS-23). Five Chinese vessels maneuvered dangerously close to a US Navy ship in the South China Sea on Sunday, March 8, 2009, approaching within 25 feet of the unarmed surveillance ship, the Pentagon said.(AFP/NVNS)

China doesn’t care much for international law and international waters: just ask Japan and Vietnam.  Both those nations have long struggles with China encroaching upon the coasts of Japan and Vietnam as the Chinese super power searches for more oil beneath the sea floor.

China has become the most voracious user of oil and other mineral resources on the planet as it strives to keep its factories busy producing goods for sale overseas.  China is in Afghanistan, protected from the Taliban by U.S. troops, while Chinese companies exploit Afghan copper.  And China just signed a $50 billion (U.S. dollars, cast) agreement to get oil from Russia for ten years.

Last year China was no help when the U.S. wanted access to Myanmar to deliver humanitarian relief supplies to those stricken by the cyclone.  After the crisis passed, China signed a big oil deal with Myanmar.

China wants the U.S. out of its sphere of influence from North Asia to Somalia, and is planning an ocean-going navy to eventualy make that goal a military reality.

China recently opened the largest sea port in the world, in Gwadar, Pakistan — directly astride the sea lanes used to bring out out of the Persian Gulf to Japan, the U.S. and others.

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to go into debt — to China.

China allows North Korea to antagonize the United States because that is in China’s long term strategic interest — and a weakening U.S. plays into China’s strategy perfectly.

Russia also wants the U.S. out of its area of influencce.  Russia recently paid off Kyrgyzstan, which was helping the American effort in Afghanistan with an air base. Just after Russia gave  Kyrgyzstan its big aid deal, that nation announced the closure of the Manas air base supporting the U.S.

File:ManasAirbase KC135.jpg
A KC-135 Stratotanker sits on the flightline at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2006. Ground crews will have to de-ice the tanker before it can take off on a refueling mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Paul Clifford)

Generous Russian loans to Kyrgyzstan totaling US$2 billion and a non-repayable US$150 million grant, were announced the day before Kyrgyzstan said Manas would be closed and the U.S. Air Force evicted.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation had been insisting on the closure of Manas to the U.S. Air Force since 2005.

What the heck is the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation?

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is an intergovernmental mutual-security organisation which was founded in 2001 by the leaders of China , Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

But the key players of the SCO are Russia and China who don’t want the U.S. or anyone else in the West anywhere near that region of the world, rich in oil and other minerals, that includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

China and Russia conducted their largest joint military exercise ever last year.

And finally Iran wants the U.S. out of the Persian Gulf, away from Arab oil, and at arms length from Isreal.

Joshua Gross wrote for the Christian Sciences Monitor today,  “Iran recently launched its first satellite into orbit in what The New York Times called, ‘a shot across the bow of American diplomacy,’ and US President Barack Obama passed along a secret letter to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in an attempt to enlist the Russians in an international effort to contain Iran’s nuclear program.”

The global economic crisis, which has eliminated something like $50 trillion in world wealth, has hit the United States and NATO very hard, which fuels the beliefe that Mr. Obama and the U.S. are weaker than ever just now.

That’s why Iran and North Korea are talking missiles and nukes, China has chosen just now to harass a U.S. ship, and Russia is gloating like a cat bird that Obama is already pleading for help with Iran from Putin and Medvedev….

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia
March 9, 2009

Iranian clerics watch the launch of a Shahab-3 ballistic missile ... 
Iranian clerics watch the launch of a Shahab-3 ballistic missile outside Qom in 2006. A top Iranian military commander said that the country has missiles that can reach the nuclear sites of its arch-foe Israel.(AFP/File/null)

Stimulus: China Will Fund U.S. Debt But “We Hate You Guys”

Russia, “Desperate For Cash,” Sells Oil to China In “Very Bad Deal”

India, China jostle for influence in Indian Ocean

 China Extends Navy’s Anti-Piracy Mission Near Somalia

 China Says Its Navy Expansion “No threat to others”

 Pentagon: Chinese Ships Harassed Unarmed U.S. Navy Craft in International Waters

 North Korea Warns: Shoot Down Our Satellite Will “Prompt Counterstrikes by the Most Powerful Military Means”

Obama’s First Major Foreign Crisis Brewing?

China’s thirst for copper could hold key to Afghanistan’s future

Obama says US is losing war in Afghanistan and hints at Taleban talks

Despite Global Economy Downturn, China Still Lending

Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”

What’s China’s Long Term Global Strategy?

CNN on Peter Bergen and Afghanistan:

Joshua Gross on Iran:

Obama Being Tested; As Biden Predicted… Is He Like Lincoln?

February 12, 2009

“Mark my words,” Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden warned last October. “It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking.”

“Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

But last Monday in his press conference, President Obama seemed to discount Joe Biden’s many verbal gaffes.

“You know, I don’t remember exactly what Joe was referring to, not surprisingly,” the President said.

Obama Confirms: Nobody Listens To Joe Biden

But Biden was correct about Obama being tested, and not just by the goofy minority in the House and Senate.

Russian leaders Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev have been testing Obama since the election, in a series of pompous pronouncements and retractions about Georgia, missile defense, nuclear weapons, Iran and more.

Now Russia has worked an around about way to get on the president’s radar — to really get his attention.  They have paid Kyrgyzstan to close the airbase at Manas that the U.S. is using to supply troops in Afghanistan.

Now diplomats are hustling to Moscow to answer the Russian move….

We’ll know soon enough if Obama is anything at all like Lincoln….but the last few weeks don’t bode well…

 For Obama, Media Can’t Wait, Can’t Criticize


By Nicholas Kralev
The Washington Times

The Obama administration sent two top officials to Moscow on Wednesday in a determined effort to retain access to a key military base in Central Asia and the first major test of the new administration’s relations with Russia.

William J. Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs and former ambassador to Moscow, planned to hold talks with senior Russian officials to better understand the link that Washington says exists between the Kyrgyz government’s decision to end the U.S. lease of the Manas air base and a Russian offer of $2 billion in aid for Kyrgyzstan, U.S. officials said.

“Burns will be discussing the Manas base issue,” one senior administration official said.

Another official said the administration wants to hear “what it is Kyrgyzstan wants” and whether the Russians want anything in exchange for continued U.S. use of the base, which Washington deems vital to U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan – especially at a time when the U.S. is preparing to surge 30,000 more troops into the country

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Obama Halts Troop Surge to Afghanistan

February 8, 2009

There has been some unease in defense and foreign policy circles about the U.S. plan to add 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan.  What exactly is our plan and how do we get out?  Add to that the fact that supply lines are tenuous from Pakistan and Russia has managed to cut off a U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan.

“Nobody can say the war in Afghanistan has gone well,” said Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s special envoy to the region.

Now a U.S. rethinking of U.S. policy toward Afganistan is underway.

Russia Closed U.S. Air Base; Allowing ‘Non-Lethal’ Supplies Through to Afghanistan

Russia Boosts Aid To Neighbors; Wants U.S. Base, Influence Ended

 Russia says it wants to help US in Afghanistan

American Troops In Afghanistan Out On A Limb?

Pentagon study: US should pare Afghanistan goals



PRESIDENT Barack Obama has demanded that American defence chiefs review their strategy in Afghanistan before going ahead with a troop surge.

There is concern among senior Democrats that the military is preparing to send up to 30,000 extra troops without a coherent plan or exit strategy.

The Times (UK)

The Pentagon was set to announce the deployment of 17,000 extra soldiers and marines last week but Robert Gates, the defence secretary, postponed the decision after questions from Obama.

The president was concerned by a lack of strategy at his first meeting with Gates and the US joint chiefs of staff last month in “the tank”, the secure conference room in the Pentagon. He asked: “What’s the endgame?” and did not receive a convincing answer.

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Russia Closed U.S. Air Base; Allowing ‘Non-Lethal’ Supplies Through to Afghanistan

February 7, 2009

Russia granted transit rights Friday to non-lethal U.S. military supplies headed to Afghanistan but only after apparently pressuring a former Soviet state to close an air base leased to the Americans.

The signal from Moscow: Russia is willing to help on Afghanistan, but only on the Kremlin’s terms.

Kyrgyzstan announced the closure of the Manas air base but American officials suspect that Russia was behind the decision, having long been irritated by the U.S presence in central Asia.

By MIKE ECKEL, Associated Press Writer

The Russian decision to let U.S. supplies cross its territory opened another route to those through Pakistan now threatened by militant attacks, but U.S. officials were still left scrambling for alternatives to Manas.

Russia wants to open discussions on thorny policy issues that Washington and Moscow have clashed on in recent years — NATO enlargement, missile defense in Europe, a new strategic arms control treaty. More importantly, Russia’s expectation is that Washington must go through Moscow where Central Asia is concerned.

Russia may also be showing Washington that its positions aren’t immovable — particularly where Afghanistan is concerned. Russia fears Afghanistan is collapsing into anarchy, leading to instability or Islamic radicals migrating northward through Central Asia.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia had agreed days earlier to allow transit of U.S. non-lethal supplies to Afghanistan.

“We are now waiting for the American partners to provide a specific request with a quantity and description of cargo,” Lavrov said Friday in remarks broadcast by Vesti-24 TV. “As soon as they do that we will issue relevant permissions.”

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While Obama Worries About Stimulus, Russia Closes Key Base To U.S. Objectives

February 6, 2009

A standoff over an obscure air base in a Central Asian country few Americans could find on a map is an opening salvo in a new kind of Cold War with Russia.

By ANNE GEARAN and ROBERT BURNS, Associated Press Writers

The prize is not military mastery or the global supremacy of ideas, but the defensive protection of resources and security. Each of the 20th century nuclear superpowers wants say-so over the decisions the other has reserved the right to make, and with a new U.S. administration signaling possible compromise with Russia on a missile-basing plan detested by Russia, Moscow is using U.S. dependence on the base for the Afghan war to drive a hard bargain.

“I think that the principal motivation is to reassert Russian influence and get visible U.S. presence out of former Soviet republics,” said retired Adm. William J. Fallon, who oversaw the Afghan and Iraq war as head of U.S. Central Command until last year.

Over the last week, Russian officials have issued new warnings against the U.S. medium-range missile system and promised billions to a former client state, Kyrgyzstan, to persuade its strongman leader to evict the U.S. military from its main air hub in the region.

Russia has long been irritated by the U.S. military presence in what it considers its natural areas of influence in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, a strategically located region straddling Europe and close to volatile nations like Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Moscow Moves to Counter U.S. Power in Central Asia

February 5, 2009

Russia is reasserting its role in Central Asia with a Kremlin push to eject the U.S. from a vital air base and a Moscow-led pact to form an international military force to rival NATO — two moves that potentially complicate the new U.S. war strategy in Afghanistan.

The Wall Street Journal

On Wednesday, Russia announced a financial rescue fund for a group of ex-Soviet allies and won their agreement to form a military rapid reaction force in the region that it said would match North Atlantic Treaty Organization standards. That came a day after Kyrgyzstan announced, at Russian urging, that it planned to evict the U.S. from the base it has used to ferry large numbers of American troops into Afghanistan. Russia said the base may house part of the planned new force instead.

The steps mark Russia’s most aggressive push yet to counter a U.S. military presence in the region that it has long resented. They pose a challenge for the administration of President Barack Obama, which sees Afghanistan as its top foreign-policy priority and is preparing to double the size of the American military presence there.

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WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US military on Wednesday faced the prospect of a costly logistical headache trying to move troops and supplies into Afghanistan, after Kyrgyzstan moved to close a major US air base that served as a vital hub.

The closure would place a strain on US supply lines at a time when President Barack Obama is preparing to nearly double the 36,000-strong force in the country and amid increasing attacks on supply routes through Pakistan.

About 15,000 people and 500 tonnes of cargo move in and out of the Manas air base every month supporting the NATO force in Afghanistan as well as the Afghan army, the Defense Department said on Wednesday.

“It’s of concern but it’s certainly not a disaster,” William Nash, a retired Army general, told AFP.

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Russia says it wants to help US in Afghanistan

American Troops In Afghanistan Out On A Limb?

Russia says it wants to help US in Afghanistan

February 4, 2009

Today, Kyrgyzstan’s government submitted a draft bill to parliament calling for the closing of the U.S. base at Manas that is key to the military campaign in Afghanistan. The U.S. Air Base has been especially important, both the State Department and Pentagon say….

Why did they do that?

Because Russia gave Kyrgyzstan a $2 Billion loan and asked them to close the U.S. air base on their soil….


President Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday that Russia and its ex-Soviet allies want to help the United States stabilize Afghanistan, saying Moscow wanted “full-fledged” cooperation with Washington.

He spoke a day after the ex-Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan announced it would evict the U.S. from an air base key to the Afghan war. Kyrgyzstan made the move after getting a promise for $2 billion in loans from Russia — which resents the American presence in a region Moscow regards as part of its traditional sphere of influence.

By MIKE ECKEL, Associated Press Writer

The possibility of the base closure poses a serious challenge to the new U.S. administration and President Barack Obama‘s plan to send up to 30,000 more American forces into Afghanistan this year.

“Russia and other (alliance members) are ready for full-fledged comprehensive cooperation with the United States and other coalition members in fighting terrorism in the region. This fight must be comprehensive and include both military and political components. Only in the case will this have a chance to succeed,” Medvedev said.

It was not clear if Medvedev’s reference to “full-fledged” cooperation was an attempt to reassure Washington or an indication that Moscow would seek concessions in exchange for helping keep the Manas air base open.

Russia has appeared open to aiding the U.S. and NATO in Afghanistan by facilitating attempts to find northern alternatives to Pakistani supply lines increasingly threatened by militant attacks. But Moscow also wants to protect what it says as its strategic backyard by blocking the possibility of NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia. Russia has also vehemently opposed U.S. plans to put a missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Medvedev appeared to criticize U.S. efforts on stabilizing Afghanistan, saying it would be impossible to defeat terrorism there only using military means.

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American Troops In Afghanistan Out On A Limb?

Afghan Supplies, Russian Demands, Obama’s Big Challenge
 Russia Boosts Aid To Neighbors; Wants U.S. Base, Influence Ended

 Pentagon study: US should pare Afghanistan goals

Can Obama succeed in the ‘land of the unruly?’ Afghanistan Won’t Be Easy

Obama’s Vietnam

Troubling Obama Trends Seen By Some In Military? Why Die For “Limited Goals” In Afghanistan?

Russia Boosts Aid To Neighbors; Wants U.S. Base, Influence Ended

February 4, 2009

Russia is now opposing President Obama on the military front.  Russia is increasing aid to Former Soviet Union members in a sort of bribe to increase Russian influence and force out ideas of democracy and help to the U.S.  The Georgia incursion last summer was a tank spearheaded attack — this is more like a bribe…

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said Tuesday at a news conference in Moscow that “all due procedures” were being initiated to close Manas Air Base, the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti reported.
Today the Associated Press said Kyrgyzstan‘s government has submitted a draft bill to parliament calling for the closing of the U.S. base at Manas that is key to the military campaign in Afghanistan.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell on Tuesday called Manas “a hugely important air base.”

“It provides us with launching point to provide supplies in Afghanistan. We very much appreciate [Kyrgyz] support in using that base and we hope to continue,” he said.


Personnel of the U.S. airbase at Manas air base near Bishkek ... 
Personnel of the U.S. airbase at Manas air base near Bishkek stand at attention at their base, June 4, 2007.(Vladimir Pirogov/Reuters)


By Conor Sweeney and Oleg Shchedrov, Reuters

Russia offered financial support to two ex-Soviet states on Tuesday and secured military favors in return, a day after former Cold War ally Cuba secured renewed assistance from Moscow.

Despite devaluing the rouble, falling oil prices and a collapse in its domestic stock market, Moscow still offered support to three countries that will pit it against the interests of the United States.

The announcements will dampen optimistic hopes that last week’s conciliatory Davos comments on both economics and defense by powerful Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin marked a change in Moscow’s combative stance toward the West.

Kyrgyzstan’s President announced his country would shut the United States Manas military airbase near the capital Bishkek that provides what the Pentagon says is a “hugely important” logistical support for its operations in Afghanistan.

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