Uzbekistan has quit the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in a move seen as clearing the way to set up military cooperation with the United States, Russian business daily Kommersant reported on Friday, citing Uzbek diplomats.
Uzbekistan objects to “the CSTO’s strategic plans on Afghanistan” and “plans for boosting military cooperation between the CSTO states,” Kommersant said, citing sources in the Uzbek Foreign Ministry.
The move may signal that the Central Asian country wants to host a U.S. base on its territory after U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, Kommersant reported. But under CSTO agreements, a member state would have to consult with the other members before hosting the armed forces of a non-CSTO country.
“Uzbekistan seems to have agreements with the United States…on opening a military base on its territory," Vadim Kozyulin from the Russian think-tank PIR-Center, told the paper. "This issue would have had to be discussed with other CSTO members. Now Tashkent may open a base without consultations.”
Kommersant reported on June 15 that the Pentagon is holding talks with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on the transfer of military equipment used by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan to the Central Asian states after the U.S. withdrawal in 2014.
“The United States will make Uzbekistan its strategic ally, will provide financial and military assistance, assume some security guarantees, close its eyes to human rights violations,” the Kommersant quoted Kozyulin as saying.
The remaining members of the CSTO, established in 1992, are Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.