Uzbekistan offers deal in exchange for Nato trucks
Posted on 4 months ago
Uzbek officials have quietly contacted American, German and British officials with the offer, in their latest bid to supplement their military despite international embargoes, according to officials in NATO countries, human rights advocates and German news reports.
On the wish list are armored vehicles, mine detectors, helicopters, navigation equipment and night-vision goggles, used and dusty would be fine, a report in the New York Times said.
It is a proposal that has won the attention of Western capitals and that is said to have annoyed the Kremlin enough that it is pushing through an arms deal with Uzbekistan’s neighbor, Kyrgyzstan.
“The Uzbeks see this as their window of bargaining leverage,” Alexander Cooley, a professor at Barnard College and an authority on the former Soviet states of Central Asia, said in a telephone interview. Both Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan were once Soviet republics.
Uzbekistan is ranked as the sixth most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International and has been banned from most arms purchases in Europe and the United States since political prisoners were discovered to have died in detention a decade ago from scalding water, from, in fact, being boiled alive.
But what Uzbek officials are offering, however, has value. Over the next two years, NATO forces are expected to remove about 70,000 vehicles and 120,000 shipping containers from Afghanistan, and the way out will require rail lines and well-surfaced roads.
The United States government has taken the Uzbek proposal seriously enough to partially lift a set of arms sales restrictions that have been in place for about a decade. And it has held interagency meetings in Washington this month to consider the latest Uzbek proposal, according to nongovernmental experts on American policy in the region.
The Uzbek request illustrates the difficult logistics of winding down the war, an unglamorous coda to a fight that began with troops parachuting in out of the night sky.
As was the case in the withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, the cost of shipping used equipment to the United States often exceeds its value.
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