In the aftermath of the most violent clashes between Kyrgyzstani and Tajikistani forces since the beginning of their three decade long ongoing border dispute, one question top on the minds of security analysts is, “How did Tajikistan launch a well-planned military operation?” Russian Defence minister Sergey Shoygu has interacted with both the country’s Tajik and Kyrgyz counterparts at a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, led by Russia to de-escalate regional tensions. Speaking about the development, political analyst, Emile Joroev said, “That seems to say something either about the complicity of Russia or relative removal of Russia from what’s going on in Central Asia or maybe some other sinister interests being played out in Moscow. That’s the million-dollar question.”
With the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) leaving Russia as the main regional power, Moscow remains a leading ally for both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Moscow however has been known to pull the geopolitical strings in the region or as foreign policy analysts put it, “Moscow rewards them if they do what it wants.” Observers note that Bishkek’s relationship with Moscow has soured over the past few years and that Moscow has not been pleased with more than a decade of political instability which witnessed three revolutions. The Kremlin is reportedly concerned about the new Kyrgyzstani President leaning towards its geopolitical rival, Beijing.
President Sadyr Japarov has been perceived by his people to be far too pacificatory towards their regional neigbour Tajikistan despite 34 of the estimated 50 casualties in the violence being Kyrgyzstani. Japarov is said to require Moscow’s to effectively de-escalate the simmering border tensions and help both the quarreling nations find a long-term political solution to the violence. Russia has called for calm and negotiations; however, analysts have called, “It’s relatively weak response may be because of what’s happening in another of Tajikistan’s neighbours, Afghanistan.”
Political analyst, Denis Berdakov says, “NATO pulling out of Afghanistan means the importance of Tajikistan for Russia is growing. Tajikistan is Russia’s first line of defense. Both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan host Russian military bases but the one in Tajikistan is more important. Because Russia understands that if Tajikistan explodes because of spill over from Afghanistan, then the whole region could follow.”
“This does not mean that Tajikistan has the right to conduct what was a planned military operation on the Kyrgyz borders, but Russia will not outright condemn it if the Kyrgyz flag flies over Bishkek. But many are wondering how Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan could reach a lasting solution to their border dispute and whether their mutual ally canoe indeed wants to help,” further elaborated Berdakov.