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Combat readiness check begins at Russian bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan

June 21, 2014, 22:49 UTC+3 YEKATERINBURG
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YEKATERINBURG, June 21, /ITAR-TASS/. Combat readiness checks began at the Russian Kant air base in Kyrgyzstan and the 201st Russian military base in Tajikistan as part of a surprise operational readiness inspection in the Central Military District ordered by President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, June 21.

“A comprehensive combat readiness check is taking place in all military units stationed in 29 regions within the Central Military District, including at the Russian Kant air base in Kyrgyzstan and the 201st military base in Tajikistan,” Yaroslav Roshchupkin, District Assistant Commander, told ITAR-TASS.

The main part of the inspection will take place in the Chelyabinsk region, southern Urals.

On June 20, several units and formations stationed in the Urals and Western Siberia were put on alert and ordered to redeploy by road and rail to training ranges they never saw before, the Chebarkul range outside Chelyabinsk being the main of them.

All activities will be evaluated by a commission led by Chairman of the Russian Army General Staff, Colonel-General Valery Gerasimov.

Russia has three military facilities in Kyrgyzstan, which should become a part of the united Russian military base under the bilateral agreement to become effective from 2017. These are the Kant air base 45 kilometres from Bishkek, which is guarded by a Russian paratrooper battalion; a Navy space communication centre, Marevo, in Chui Region; and the [torpedo] test centre on Lake Issyk-Kul. Kant is a CSTO base, not a Russian military base and operates in the country on special terms.

However, experts say that Russia needs a full-blown military base in Kyrgyzstan in order to secure its national interests there. This issue has been discussed for several years now since 2009 when the presidents of the two countries signed the relevant memorandum. It has not been implemented yet and the Russian base is still a matter of future.

The agreement with Kyrgyzstan was signed on September 20, 2012, and formalises “long-term Russian military presence in Kyrgyzstan [for 20 years].”

The annual rent payment for the land and a part of Lake Issyk-Kul leased to Russia will be 4.5 million U.S. dollars.

The agreement on the status and terms of presence of the Russian military base in Tajikistan was signed on October 5, 2012 by the defence ministers of the two countries in the presence of President Putin and President Rahmon. It replaced the previous agreement that expired at the end of last year.

The new agreement extends the presence of the Russian military in Tajikistan for 49 years since the start of the first agreement (May 25, 1993) until 2042. After that the agreement may be extended for a new term.

The agreement raises the status of the Russian military base, its personnel and their families and gives them immunity.

The document also stipulates the terms of lease for facilities. Practically no fee will be charged under the new agreement.

The 201st base is a part of the Collective Rapid Reaction Force created by the CSTO.

The two countries are not engaged in negotiations on further presence of the base in Tajikistan.

When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, the 201st Motorised Infantry Division was deployed in Tajikistan. Most of the conscripts drafted to the division had grown up in Tajikistan and deserted while the Russian officers kept control of the division's equipment after its subunits were reinforced with Russian special task troops. In September 1992, Russian President Boris Yeltsin re-established firm Russian control over the division. The Commonwealth of Independent States had created the Collective Peacekeeping Force in Tajikistan, and the 201st Division made up its core.

In 2001, the division was deployed to the Afghan border in expectation of a U.S. attack on Afghanistan, and possible attempts by the Taleban to cross the border into Tajikistan.

In August 2003, the 201st Motorised Infantry Division participated in a joint exercise with the Tajik military outside Dushanbe.

Prior to the current agreement, the presence of the Russian troops in Tajikistan was regulated by a bilateral agreement, signed in 2008, on joint planning for the use of troops (forces) to ensure common security. According to the document, Moscow and Dushanbe study the military and political situation in the region, define the contingent of coalition troops composed of Russian and Tajik military personnel, and plan their deployment in accordance with each other’s laws.

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