Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev announced yesterday that Russia is about to acquire the legal right to maintain its troops and military bases in Tajikistan. The announcement capped Sergeev’s three-day visit to that republic, where he held detailed talks with President Imomali Rakhmonov regarding the latter’s official visit to Russia later this month at the invitation of President Boris Yeltsin. Sergeev also signed a bilateral agreement on military cooperation in 1999 with his Tajik counterpart, Colonel-General Sherali Hairulloev. Sergeev reported to Yeltsin by telephone on the progress of his mission each of the three days he spent in Tajikistan.
Rahmonov’s visit to Moscow is expected to result in the signing of a Russian-Tajik alliance treaty, modeled on the Russian-Armenian treaty, and accompanied by a status-of-forces agreement enshrining the Russian military basing rights in Tajikistan for a 25-year period. Those rights are to be conferred specifically on Russia’s 201st motor-rifle division and on unspecified additional units, all of which have until now been deployed in Tajikistan under the guise of “CIS peacekeeping troops.”
RATIONALIZING THE TROOP PRESENCE.