After the US left Central Asia, Russia and China are not opposed to taking their place. However, as War on the Rocks writes, they occupy different niches in this matter, conduct exercises with different forces, and supply weapons of a different nature. So in the near future a clash between these powers is unlikely, the article concludes.
The “War on the Rocks” continues, “The War on the Rocks”. Thus, the government of Tajikistan exchanged verbal battles with the Taliban * – and the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed its concerns about this. Under current conditions, Russia will conduct a series of exercises on the border of Tajikistan and Afghanistan within the framework of the CSTO.
As the authors of the article note, the states that border on Afghanistan rely on their allies in security policy. And since the United States is leaving the region, Russia and China are strengthening their positions. However, analysts believe that a clash between the two powers is unlikely.
China and Russia have common interests in the region. Both countries fear that Central Asia will become a hotbed of terrorism. Both want to contain the instability that may stem from Afghanistan. And both countries would like the US to leave the region. The latter goal has already been realized, although not through their merits.
With the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, the role in the United States has become even smaller. The idea of returning after such a departure was greeted with rather cool. While in Afghanistan, the United States used Central Asia as a convenient logistics hub. But by 2014, the bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan were closed. In 2015, the United States refused to cooperate with Russia on this issue, as Moscow and Washington deteriorated.
While the US has pledged to build new sites on the Tajik-Afghan border, its aid has hit between $ 450 million and $ 11 million in 2020. The number of military exercises by Western forces with the participation of military personnel from Central Asia was also rapidly reduced.
According to the authors of the article, Russia has now become the region’s main partner in security matters. She still has bases in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, she is responsible for half of all arms imports to the region, since 1991 she has organized 121 series of exercises there. Russia has mechanisms in its arsenal to ensure security, both bilaterally and through organizations like the CSTO and the CIS.
Some states in the region have special conditions for the purchase of Russian weapons at reduced prices, and the poorest countries are supplied with weapons free of charge. The scale of the exercises conducted by Russia is twice that of the same China. And if China uses cooperation between the security services and the police, then Russia with the countries of the region uses cooperation in the field of military security.
At the same time, Russia has shown its ability to take tough action in the region. For example, in August 2018, Russian forces in Tajikistan fired on drug traffickers in what the authors of the article describe as Moscow’s first military intervention in Afghan politics since the withdrawal of troops in 1989. Now Russia has transferred various weapons to the region, including the Su-25 aircraft. As the author of the article notes.
As for China, its share of the arms market has grown over the past decade from 1.5% to 13%. For example, he is engaged in the same areas where Russia lags behind: for example, it supplies drones. China has become more active in the region, fearing its instability will spill over into the inner-Chinese regions inhabited by Uighurs. It is for this reason that his interest in cooperation with internal security forces and in the fight against terrorism is rooted.
Russia, according to the authors of the article, considers itself a leader in security in this region, and China does not want to interfere with it in this region. Moreover, the countries exchange experience, conduct joint exercises. “At the moment, Russia and China do not seem to be competing in Central Asia. But it will be tested by the rise of China, which will continue into the post-American era.“, – write experts” War on stones “. In their opinion, China can lay claim to the Russian part of the arms market in the region.
* “Taliban” – the organization was recognized as terrorist by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of February 14, 2003.