TREATY REINFORCES AN ESTABLISHED PRESENCE.

Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 77

Russian army troops in Tajikistan are said to number some 8,000 to 9,000 at present, including 6,500 troops of the 201st motor-rifle division. The force is massively armed with armor and artillery, possesses some tactical aviation and is said to control arms stockpiles for a larger number of troops. An Russian advisory mission, composed of some twenty senior officers under a major-general, essentially supervises Tajikistan’s Defense Ministry. Some 550 Tajik officers and cadets are currently studying in Russian military academies. The Tajik side is supposed to take over most of the ex-Soviet military installations which are not currently being used by the Russian military in Tajikistan.

Russian border troops in Tajikistan have traditionally been more numerous than Russian Army troops there. The border troops currently number 14,500. Most of the officers are Russians, but most of the conscripts are Tajikistanis. Under a bilateral agreement, the sides are supposed to defray the Russian border troops’ expenses on a fifty-fifty basis. The Tajik side, however, is unable to pay its share, leaving Moscow to bear most of the expenses.

Commenting on the treaties just signed in Moscow, President Imomali Rahmonov went out of his way to extend assurances that the Tajik-Russian relationship is “not aimed against the interests of other countries,” and that “Tajikistan’s territory would not be used against other countries for hostile actions.” The assurances are intended mainly for Uzbekistan and only secondarily for Afghanistan. The United Tajik Opposition, Uzbek President Islam Karimov and the Taliban authorities have very little in common with each other and indeed much to separate them. But they all–each for its own reasons–oppose the Russian militarization of Tajikistan. And–again for varying reasons–they disagree with Rahmonov’s position, reaffirmed by him in the Kremlin, that “Russia has been and remains the guarantor of peace and stability, not only in our region, but throughout the world” (Russian agencies, April 17-19; see the Monitor, April 8, 12).

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