Monday, January 04, 2010


the efforts of Moscow and India to blunt China's soft-power push into Russia's "near beyond" - the oil and gas-rich former Soviet republics
India's opportunistic decision to play the "Great Game" on the cheap - piggybacking the military
and diplomatic presence of Moscow and Washington in selected pro-Russian and pro-Western states in Central Asia to score points off its rivals China and Pakistan
Indian Air Force base in, of all places, Mongolia.
thwarting of India's signature piece of air-base diplomacy - in
Russia-India strategic partnership looks like a bad marriage
unwittingly reveal their inadequacies.
The joint communique
Beyond irking Beijing and creating an additional counterweight to China
an attempt to gain vitally needed support from a credible, emerging superpower for Moscow's faltering security doctrine.
Russia has been laboring with scant success to leverage its potential utility on Afghanistan
Putin succumbed to
provocations (and the West's
orchestration of the

independence of Kosovo) with overwhelming force in 2008
Russia won the war but no overt backing from ex-Soviet states
attempts to build a culture of dependency on Russian military might and arms sales
has endured legendary difficulties
with Moscow
Russia's anxiety has increased exponentially as India enjoys its new strategic partnership - and the potential for arms sales - with the United States instead
Russia struggles with its diplomatic isolation
China - the SCO.
resisting both US-sponsored color revolutions
and brutal Islamicist insurgencies
to China's control of its restive Muslim autonomous region of Xinjiang did not take root in the region
the point of the SCO is multi-lateral economic and security integration that creates a profitable, stable, and strategically friendly backyard for China
China has resisted calls to use the SCO as the basis for a military alliance.
shaped by awareness that any military organization would be dominated by the Russians
and attract the

overwhelmingly hostile interest of the US
China is very anxious to keep a lid on things in Central Asia
to the aggrieved Uyghur separatists of Xinjiang
SCO has a
office in Tashkent
combating the "three evils" of terrorism, extremism and separatism
Beijing's vision
to demonstrate the advantages of stable, pro-Chinese regimes
October meeting of SCO
reiterated a pledge of $10 billion
ride out the global financial crisis
China's extensive economic penetration of Central Asia is a matter of public record.
bank of the Amu Darya River on December 14
China, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan turned the valves
30 billion cubic meters per annum
to Xinjiang
multi-national project
distinction between promoting regional integration and assembling a geopolitical bloc
Turkmenistan now has a major alternative
to Russia's contentious and overbearing Gazprom
"China's gas supply from Turkmenistan" published on December 28, 2009, by Hurriyet Daily News

The additional bargaining power Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan gained from diversifying their energy export routes, thanks to the Chinese assistance, strengthens their political and economic independence and reinforces regional stability and security and that achievement deserves recognition.

Russia's riposte
to assert the existence of an existential narcotics and Islamicist security crisis in Central Asia
can only be resolved with
Russian military muscle.

Russia has been able to enlist India
firmly committed to the civilization-versus-terror narrative courtesy of its burgeoning partnership with the US
Russia and India share
strategic interests in Afghanistan
that conflicts with China's desire to let the Pashtuns sort things out
eye of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence
Russia hopes to leverage
into an acceptance of Moscow's security leadership by Stans vulnerable to
Islamic militancy
India recognizes any victory by pro-Pakistan Pashtun factions
as a defeat for its efforts to distract and bedevil Pakistan.
This shared interest
joint statement of Manmohan and
to preclude negotiating with the Taliban insurgency

centerpiece of the US strategy
political settlement and depart
[Russia and India] agree that the fight against terrorism cannot be selective, and drawing false distinctions between 'good' and 'bad' Taliban would be counter-productive."
a meaningful alliance
founder on the collision between Moscow's crude anti-diplomacy and India's ineffectual and opportunistic outreach
neatly illustrated
The Tajik
disregards the artificial border and dominates northwestern Afghanistan, including the Ferghana Valley, the legendary bulwark of the anti-Pashtun, anti-Taliban Tajik leader and Russian asset, Ahmad Shah Massoud
Russia relied on Tajikistan to provide a logistical rear area for its support of the Northern Alliance during the period of Taliban domination
India pitched in by constructing a military hospital at the town of Farkhor in Tajikistan territory a scant two kilometers from the Afghan border
died at the hospital two days before the September 11, 2001 attacks
Tajikistan is the new

hotspot in the global "war on terror" as
the centerpiece of
Petraeus' efforts to support the Afghan surge with a new supply route - the Northern Distribution Network (NDN)
bringing an ocean of cash
Tajikistan security has deteriorated
as militants fleeing the Pakistan government crackdown in Waziristan have found refuge in Tajikistan's vulnerable border regions
the movement of militants to
peaceful northern border districts to attack the NDN
the US and NATO, Russia and India sense opportunity in Tajikistan, giving the local boss, Emomali Rahmon, a chance to play off one
against the other
and reveal the fragility
between Russia and India
India maintained its presence at Farkhor
negotiated terms in 2002 for its first significant military base outside India, at the Ayni airport on the outskirts of Tajikistan's capital of Dushanbe
India's ubiquitous quasi-military Border Roads Organization
increasingly finds itself operating beyond India's borders
went to work expanding Ayni's runway
Stories were floated

India would station helicopters or even MiG fighters at Ayni
Ayni would be operated in rotation by Russia, India and Tajikistan
Indian Air Force would be reliant on Russia's good offices and logistical support to maintain its presence
But what Russia giveth, it taketh away.
Russia has been eyeing India's rapprochement with the US with considerable jealousy and anxiety
also covets Ayni
as a platform for its own aircraft
its importance in the suddenly significant northern Afghan theater
Last September, India
tried to bypass
and play its own bilateral hand in Tajikistan
Tajikistan, responding to some combination of Russian resentment, Chinese objections, and insufficient bribery, decided to evict 150 Indian military
from Ayni
telling New Delhi not to "stray" into the American military hardware camp
India annually conducts defense business of over $1.5 billion
Over the next decade
$40 billion to replace or upgrade
with Russia wanting to renegotiate

its $85 billion Sukhoi 30MkI multi-role fighter deal
In July
Dushanbe was not negotiating with New Delhi about permitting India a military base at Ayni
the US
forestall eviction from its airbase at Manas Airport in Kyrgyzstan
hopeless situations can be turned around
combination of concessions to Russia and payoffs to the local potentate
So India might still find a
foothold for its air force
but it will remain beholden to
has forestalled a genuine strategic partnership between Moscow and New Delhi that will counter the "soft power" outreach of Beijing through the SCO
the December Russia-India communique made no mention of Russia's pet geopolitical projects: the European Security Treaty or the CTSO
As long as India continues to rely on its equivocal relationship as an auxiliary to Russia and
the US in their great power machinations
it is likely that India and Russia will keep spinning their gears as China and the SCO continue to move ahead
Peter Lee

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