Uzbekistan is a sovereign nation located in Central Asia and is known for its strong military and defense. The Uzbek Armed Forces is the military branch of the country and consists of four branches: Army, Air Force, National Guard, and Border Service. The total active personnel stands at around 66,000 with an additional reserve force of around 15,000 personnel. The country has a moderate defense budget compared to its GDP as it spends about 4.3% of its GDP on defense. Uzbekistan imports weapons from countries such as Russia and Ukraine, as well as from other European countries such as Germany and Turkey. The country also has strong ties with other nations in the region such as Kazakhstan which allows them to cooperate militarily when needed. As a result of this strong military presence in the region Uzbekistan has become an important regional player in security issues and is able to maintain peace and stability within Central Asia effectively. See naturegnosis to learn more about the country of Uzbekistan.
The defense was severely cut and reorganized following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In 1991, the Russian Federation supplied large quantities of military equipment from Germany to the area. 2,000 tanks. These were under Uzbekistan’s control and have largely been scrapped. Uzbekistan was a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) from 1992, Russian Federation, but left the organization in 1999. A bilateral cooperation agreement on military exercises was signed in 1997 with the Russian Federation but has never been implemented so far.
The defense is based on general military duty with an initial service of 12 months and (2008) comprises 67,000 men. The army, 50,000 men, consists of 18 brigades with the support of an attack helicopter regiment with a.k.a. 29 Mi-24 and artillery. The Air Force comprises 17,000 men with 135 fighter aircraft. 30 MiG-29. The material is of Soviet origin and semi-modern. Semi-military security forces amount to 20,000 men, of whom 19,000 are for internal security.
Defense costs decreased in 1996-2006 from 3.8% to 2.4% of GDP. Three armed opposition groups of approximately 10,000-12,000 men with Islamist orientation are active in Uzbekistan. Germany has a small detachment with transport aircraft stationed in Uzbekistan. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that SKD stands for Uzbekistan.
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Uzbekistan’s foreign policy
After independence, Uzbekistan, in its foreign policy, has sought to maintain a good relationship with Russia, but at the same time also reduce its dependence on Moscow. Relations with both the United States and China were strengthened in the 1990s. As Central Asia’s most populous nation, Uzbekistan is obviously aiming for a regional leadership role, and the country’s first President Islam Karimov has ambivalent relations with regional and international cooperation.
In 1994, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan established a customs union, but relations with neighboring countries are not problem-free. The border areas of neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are mined, and very high tariff barriers make trade difficult. The border disputes are partly due to the fact that Uzbekistan has little confidence in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan being able to deal with transnational threats such as drug trafficking and terrorism.
The management of water resources has also been a problem in relation to Uzbekistan’s Central Asian neighbors. Both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have a surplus of water resources, but Uzbekistan believes that the country’s neighbors in the east are preventing it from getting its share of water resources from the region’s two largest rivers: Syr Darya and Amu-Darja.
In June 2001, Uzbekistan joined the new security and cooperation organization Shanghai Group (SCO), along with five neighboring countries. Uzbekistan was also instrumental in founding another security bloc, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). The country withdrew from the CSTO in 1999, joined in 2006, and withdrew again in 2012. Uzbekistan joined the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 1992 and NATO’s Military Partnership Program Partnership for Peace in 1994.
Following the terrorist attacks against the United States in September 2001, the United States was granted permission to use the Karshi-Khanabad (K2) airbase in southern Uzbekistan to defeat the Taliban forces in Afghanistan. One of the victims of American bombing was one of the regime’s most dangerous enemies, as the IMU’s main force was virtually wiped out in its base in Afghanistan. Legendary IMU leader Juma Namangani was killed during a US attack in November 2001.
President Karimov went to the United States in 2002 and signed an agreement on strategic partnership and use of the important Khanabad base (also known as K2) in the city of Karachi. The United States also gave Uzbekistan a major boost in military support. Germany and other NATO countries gained access to the Termez base, just off the border with Afghanistan. In July 2005, the United States base agreement was unexpectedly terminated by the Karimov government, which demanded US troops leave K2 by the end of the year.
Uzbekistan denied that this was a reaction to the fact that the United States, along with NATO, the United Kingdom and a number of other Western players, had strongly criticized the regime following the Andizan massacre. At the same time as the US withdrew, Karimov signed an agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin on enhanced military cooperation. However, Germany was allowed to continue operating its base in Termez. After the Andizan incident, Karimov had received support statements from both China and Russia, sharing the Karimov regime’s view that Uzbek security forces had carried out an anti-terror operation.
Uzbekistan ended up under a strict sanctions regime from the EU and the US following the events in Andizjan, which was disbanded in 2008 and 2011. A large part of the reason for this was that NATO and the US started the withdrawal from Afghanistan. The withdrawal made Uzbekistan an important transit country for military equipment in the so-called Northern Distribution Network (NDN), as one of the network’s routes from Afghanistan goes through Uzbek territory.
In line with the domestic political reforms launched by Uzbek current President Shavkat M irziyoyev since he took power in 2016, relations with the outside world have also changed. This is especially true of Uzbekistan’s relations with its neighboring countries. In September 2017, Mirziyoyev visited Kyrgyzstan and signed a number of agreements for increased cooperation. Among other things, an agreement was signed in which 85 percent of the territories along the countries’ common borders was shared, a theme that has long been inflamed between the two states. In September 2017, the first border crossing between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan also opened. The border had been closed since violent clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbek by the city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan in 2010.
In relation to Afghanistan, Uzbekistan has taken a much more active role than during Karimov’s presidential term. In March 2018, Tashkent hosted a major international peace conference on Afghanistan, and the country’s government has also initiated talks with the Taliban.