The defense ministers of Uzbekistan and Georgia, Col. Gen. Rustem Ahmedov and Lt. Gen. Vardiko Nadibaidze, yesterday told a joint news conference in Tbilisi that their countries would not join a CIS military coalition or common CIS forces. The ministers agreed with one another that creation of a CIS coalition or forces might dangerously redivide the world and lead to international confrontation. By the same token they agreed that their countries need not get involved in the controversy over NATO’s enlargement, leaving the matter for the U.S. and Russia to resolve.
Completing two days of talks, Ahmedov and Nadibaidze signed a package of bilateral agreements on military cooperation and partnership. Partial disclosures indicate that the agreements cover inter alia reciprocal use of airfields, logistical support, technical servicing of military equipment, and personnel training. Ahmedov reiterated Uzbekistan’s willingness to participate in international peacekeeping operations under non-CIS auspices, stressing that such participation would require a United Nations mandate. (Iprinda, BGI, Caucasus Press, Noyan Tapan, September 10)
Uzbekistan has inherited substantial ex-Soviet military equipment and personnel, presumably enabling it to provide some types of military deliveries and technical assistance in obsolete categories of hardware. The country has joined with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in forming a peacekeeping battalion specifically for non-CIS peacekeeping operations. Ahmedov’s emphasis on the need for a UN mandate seems to indicate that Tbilisi may have asked about possible Uzbek participation in the Abkhazia peacekeeping operation. Nadibaidze was known as a proponent of close military cooperation with Russia when his political protector, Gen. Pavel Grachev, was Russia’s defense minister. Georgia is now belatedly creating a national army, is disappointed with Russia’s conditions for providing military assistance, and seeks alternative sources of such assistance. (See Transcaucasus section below)
Leaders Concerned by Western Equivocation on Security.