U.S. Should Avoid Backroom Deals on Kyrgyzstan

U.S. Should Avoid Backroom Deals on Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan will certainly be discussed in various side meetings during today's Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. When the issue is raised, the United States must be careful not to engage in any backroom deals over the country's fate. Such an approach would damage the U.S. position in the region, while at best creating only the illusion of stability in Kyrgyzstan and more generally in Central Asia.

Both Russia and the U.S. have a real stake in the outcome of the current political standoff in the Kyrgyz Republic. The U.S. transit center at Manas Airport is the major military transfer point into Afghanistan and an important, but not irreplaceable, link for U.S.-led military operations in that country.

By contrast, Russia has traditionally been Kyrgyzstan's closest foreign ally. It is the country's long-term economic partner and home to hundreds of thousands of Kyrgyz seasonal laborers. Most importantly, Russia is the de facto head of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the security arrangement that includes Kyrgyzstan. Moscow also has a military base in the country, albeit a very small one.

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