NewsCentral Asia's Bold Move: Hosting Major Military Drills sans Russia

Central Asia's Bold Move: Hosting Major Military Drills sans Russia

Kazakhstan is distancing itself from Russia with such actions.
Kazakhstan is distancing itself from Russia with such actions.
Images source: © PAP
5:44 PM EDT, April 27, 2024
In July, Central Asia will host the "Birlestik-2024" exercises, a pivotal occurrence for Russia. However, the twist in the story is Russia's exclusion from the event, raising questions about the intentions of its neighbors.
The training will unfold at Kazakhstan's Ojmasza training ground and on the Cape Tokmak along the Caspian Sea, drawing military personnel from Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
These large-scale exercises will feature a thousand soldiers engaging in various maneuvers with tanks, fighter jets, ships, and infantry vehicles. The planned scenarios will encompass combat operations, logistics, and medical assistance, highlighting the complexity of the training.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry highlighted one intriguing aspect: marine infantry and special forces will practice retaking an island from "terrorist groups," a scenario that indirectly references tactics Russia is known for.
Emphasizing international cooperation, management improvement, command skills, and experience sharing, the organizers aim to enhance the professionalism of the participating military forces.

Experts view this as the dawn of a new era

Azerbaijan's think tank, STEM, has been eyeing these developments for some time. It suggests that this collaboration marks a significant strategic pivot, potentially securing sovereignty defense for the involved nations.

Moreover, the establishment of closer, bilateral military relations with Turkey marks a historic moment for both the South Caucasus and Central Asia, signalling a shift towards not just political and economic integration but also military cohesion— a move of considerable significance in counterbalancing major power nations, according to STEM analysts.

Azerbaijan emerges as a key player in this integration. It focuses on securing the Trans-Caspian transport route, which now takes precedence in military drills.

A notable exclusion, undermining Putin's influence

Observing "Birlestik-2024" from afar, Russia finds Kazakhstan's non-invitation particularly alarming. This move might signal a diminishing Russian influence in the region.

The ambiguous nature of Kazakhstan's participation has stirred discussions among pro-Kremlin circles. There are perceptions of both a friendly posture and actions that might be seen as not entirely supportive of Russia, affecting both its relations with the West and its military positioning, as noted by Vladimir Shapavalov, a Russian political scientist, in “General Newspaper of the Leningrad Region.”

Related content