(Photo Credit: Department of Defense Photostream)
A quick follow-up to yesterday’s post on Kyrgyzstan.
Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Richard Weitz has a piece in The Diplomat about the ongoing competition among China, Russia, and the United States in that country.
From the piece:
Russian and Chinese policymakers face conflicting considerations in deciding whether to exploit the new situation in Kyrgyzstan to try to secure a US military withdrawal from Manas. On the one hand, Moscow would enhance its leverage with Washington if the United States were to lose its access to the base and have to rely more heavily on bringing supplies into Central Asia through Russian territory. Denied use of Manas, the United States and other NATO countries would depend on Russian goodwill to continue supporting their Afghan contingents through this northern route. Moscow could threaten to suspend transit through its territory should NATO prove excessively recalcitrant regarding Afghanistan, Georgia, missile defence, or other disputed issues.
On the other hand, NATO might decide to expand use of the South Caucasus as an alternative transit route, which would enhance the leverage of the current Georgian government, which is seeking to join the alliance. Or NATO might curtail its efforts in Afghanistan, which would increase the danger that terrorism and narcotics trafficking would spread to Russia and its Central Asian allies. In any case, a Russian effort to evict NATO from Manas would certainly harm the reset efforts that have produced the New START Treaty and possibly greater cooperation over Iran and Afghanistan.
Beijing appears not yet to have made a formal decision on Manas and Chinese officials may find themselves equally cross-pressured. Manas’ location only 200 miles from the China-Kyrgyzstan border, combined with Washington’s longstanding military cooperation with Taiwan and Japan as well as its growing security ties with India, invariably has stimulated fears of US encirclement. On the other hand, Chinese leaders thus far have avoided directly challenging the NATO military presence in Kyrgyzstan.
China’s ambivalence reflects recognition of the advantages of having the United States heavily involved in suppressing potentially anti-Chinese terrorism in Central Asia. It also results from uncertainties over the ability of China or Russia to manage the consequences of a precipitous NATO military disengagement from the region.
The entire article can be read here.
— Ben Katcher