Jeenebkov and Putin break bread and have tea
The meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov took place after the completion of the Centre 2019 military exercises in the Orenburg region. The heads of the two states watched the maneuvers together, and then, according to the press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov, "they touched upon current bilateral relations and exchanged thoughts on regional issues, including one related to the integration process in the post-Soviet sphere."
The two heads of state observed military exercises at the Donguz training ground near the Russian-Kazakh border, in which military units from India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan participated. "It is very important that Kyrgyz units are taking part in these large-scale military exercises. The exercises involve 128,000 service personnel and 600 aircraft. It really is a very important stage in the training of our armed forces for any emergency, including those that can arise in the fight against terrorism. As CSTO member states, which is very important for us," the President of Russia said.
Jeenebkov thanked for the invitation: "I felt glad, proud and inspired by our armed forces... Our military departments have always cooperated actively at the bilateral level. I have always said, and I can say it once again, that Kyrgyzstan is the most reliable friend, ally and partner for Russia." The Center-2019 exercises, as stated, are anti-terrorist in nature and aimed at "ensuring stability and peace in the Central Asian region. The U.S. analytical center Jamestown Foundation noted in its report that the exercises "look less like preparing for counter-terrorist actions, than for inter-state war." After the active phase of the Center-2019 exercises was completed, Putin and Jeenbekov, accompanied by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff Valery Gerasimov, tasted bread baked in the field bakery and had some tea.
Jeenbekov was the only foreign leader present at the military exercises, which were called the largest in the history of Russia. The fact is that Kyrgyzstan is presiding over the CSTO this year. Although the details of Putin-Jeenbekov talks were not disclosed, experts believe that it could be a matter of regional security. The protracted conflict on the border of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan could provoke regional instability. The last skirmish occurred a few days ago using mortar fire. During the shootout, three Tajik border guards and one Kyrgyz died. There are casualties among the civilian population. Many were injured, including a child.
Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Chingiz Aidarbekov blamed the Tajik side for the armed conflict. "Such clashes pose a potential threat to both regional projects and the region as a whole," Kyrgyz political analyst Mars Sariev told Vestnik Kavkaza. Through Batken, Turkmen gas is expected to go to Kashgar (China). The destabilization of Batken will prevent the implementation of this project. Kyrgyz authorities don't give any coherent answer to that. But, according to Sariev, Bishkek understands that Tajikistan purposefully causes provocations at the border. And given the fact that this region is also characterized by a high degree of criminalization, it is obvious that someone needs instability.
"Kyrgyz deputies are openly proposing to block the supply of smuggled fuel and lubricants to Tajikistan and then peace will come. Drugs are smuggled from Afghanistan also via this route. If the border is delimited and determined, then this "black hole" will be closed," Mars Sariev noted.
The second question that could be discussed by Putin and Jeenbekov is ex-president Almazbek Atambayev's fate. On August 8, as a result of a special operation that lasted two days, Atambayev was arrested and placed at the GKNB pre-trial detention facility. "Being in a pre-trial detention center, Atambayev refuse to testify. His wife Raisa Atambayeva was left alone after a number of interrogations. It is possible that Putin is interested in a peaceful resolution of the issue, since Atambayev has a large case of confidential information. He may be released for health reasons and taken to Russia," the expert believes. In return, Kyrgyzstan, which needs money, will receive another tranche from Moscow.
President Jeenbekov has failed to resolve the investment issue. His talks with China's President Xi Jinping, which took place in summer as part of the SCO summit in Bishkek, gave no results. In the summer in Switzerland, which is named "world government headquarters" or "back door to the White House" since the 1950s, he tried to negotiate with the Americans. We need money - we have a complete collapse in the economy," the political scientist noted. The president was returning from Bern through Moscow on July 11. Russia was worried about the state of affairs in Kyrgyzstan. The protracted conflict between the two political heavyweights threatened the stability of the republic. The Kremlin would not like to have another Afghanistan right next to it. "After having a thorough discussion with Putin, Jeenbekov decided to storm the Atambayev’s house," Sariev believes. Although Putin told reporters back then: "The country needs political stability, and all the people must unite around the current president and help him develop the state." The Russian leader de facto suggested Jeenbekov to integrate Atambayev into the system, unite and work for the benefit of Russia. And the benefit of Russia is stability in Kyrgyzstan. But a month later, the Kyrgyz security forces stormed Atambaev’s house.
On August 9, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Bishkek, he assured that Russia would fulfill all its obligations. It is not entirely clear what kind of obligations were referred to. If those that were signed during Vladimir Putin's state visit to Kyrgyzstan, then these were memorandums worth $5 billion. Then about 500 Russian businessmen, who proposed several projects in the mining industry and in the field of hydropower, came to Bishkek. However, the business forum did not bring any significant results. "The Kyrgyz side has shown a confusion and disinterest. Although Kyrgyzstan remains an important partner and ally for Russia," Mars Sariev said.