Hard Sell for U.S. and NATO to Join Russia on International Security for Kyrgyzstan     Print

American foreign-policy experts have called for NATO to seek to join in any international re-arrangements for Kirighi, "With the violence around Osh continuing and a very real possibility that the conflict could expand to engulf parts of neighboring Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, NATO and the United States must immediately engage with regional partners to help restore security", according to a New York Times piece authored by a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow.

Other experts said that there is scant possibility for such wider arrangements, but they agreed that Washington and EU capitals should make a diplomatic push to test any quasi-Russian monopoly as a regional hegemon in Asia. Any such breakthrough would require broad deal-making with Moscow to turn around recent trends of Russian assertiveness and a long-running rivalry; "for two decades, NATO has played the role of policeman in conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo, while Russia has done so separately in Georgia and Moldova. Not surprisingly, what one side has viewed as peacekeeping, the other has labeled bullying occupation", the New York Times authors noted.

To add, the escalating regional and ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan has prompted the interim government to appeal for peacekeeping aid from Russian troops. Russia has said that it is ready to help, but wants to consult with other members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a regional security alliance of former Soviet republics. That group does not include Uzbekistan, the neighboring country that Kirighis fear might be backing separatist efforts by Uzbeks that are at the core of the bloodshed in the south of the county.

The clashes there have underlined the tinder-box potential in some parts of central Asia – and also shown that Russia is positioned to send peacekeepers and play other roles as the stabilizing regional power. The European Institute blog reported on this aspect of the recent government overthrow of the Kirighi regime.

Moscow views the former Soviet republics in central Asia as part of an enduring Russian sphere of influence – along with countries such as Ukraine and Georgia that have flirted with aspirations to NATO membership.

The two-month old government’s quick act of dependence on the larger, more dominant Russia may hint at a relationship between the two that began before the current conflict broke out: one revolving back to the violent political turnover in April, and the overthrow of Backiyev’s government. The Washington Post reports, “Russia’s influence in Kyrgyzstan has been on the rise since [the ouster of the previous rule], an autocrat who fell out of favor with the Kremlin by breaking a promise to close the U.S. base”, a major airbase in the country that supports the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.