Kremlin’s official spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused either to confirm or to deny that during the summit in Geneva, Vladimir Putin suggested that Joe Biden use Russian military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to control the developing crisis in Afghanistan.
Why Moscow offers its military bases to Washington
According to Peskov, “the topic of Afghanistan, the withdrawal of American troops and the topic of growing instability in this country were really touched upon during the Geneva summit.” He could neither confirm nor deny the information about Putin’s suggestion for the use of Russian army bases.
A similar proposal was previously reported by the Kommersant newspaper. Citing its sources, the newspaper wrote that Vladimir Putin came up with an initiative to use military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to control the situation in Afghanistan. The alleged purpose of the suggestion was to exchange information with the use of drones at Russian bases.
As one of the sources noted, the Americans would have certainly accepted such a suggestion if they had not pursued other tasks.
Earlier, Washington announced that the Pentagon was considering an option to deploy part of its forces in Central Asia — in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — after the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
The Americans deployed army bases in the countries of Central Asia in 2001. Russia did not counteract to that then as Moscow was hoping to strengthen partnership with the West. China did not express much enthusiasm about that, but did not oppose the United States either.
However, the situation has changed a lot since then. It should be reminded that the US army base at Manas airport was shut down in 2014. Today, the countries of the region do not express a special desire to see the US military men walking on their soil.
Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). Turkmenistan pursues a policy of neutrality. Uzbekistan and Pakistan have declared their unwillingness to host US military facilities on their territories.
USA has to accept Russia’s terms
We would like to point it out here again that Putin’s suggestion to Biden (if he made such a suggestion) stipulates for cooperation in the field of information exchange. This option may not suit Washington. However, the freedom of manoeuvre for the Americans in the region is limited. If the Americans are interested in the deployment of the base, they will have to make quite an offer that the authorities of a Central Asian country will not be able to decline.
Given the influence of Russia and China in the region, it is difficult to imagine what kind of an offer that might be, or, to be more precise, how much money it might be.
The Americans may not very interested in such bases. They may not want to go for it if they have to accept Russia’s terms for the purpose. If Putin did make such a suggestion to Biden, it may mean that the problem in the region is highly serious.