Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tajikistan has finally taken place. The media, which analyze the results of this visit, focus on military agreements. The 201st motorized infantry division has become a military base. The Tajik-Afghan sector of the border protected by Russian servicemen will be passed over to the control of Tajik border guards as of 2006. The Window optic-electronic complex located in Nurek (it operates in the interests of the Russian
Space Force) has become Russia’s property. It should be noted that all these moves aimed at strengthening Russia’s security have an economic background, which we previously did not notice.
For instance, Russia has received the Window complex as repayment of Tajikistan’s debt. The complex built by the USSR was evaluated at $242.5 million. It’s obvious that this complex is much more expensive. However, Imomali Rakhmonov agreed to reduce the price because it covers Tajikistan’s debt to Russia (the total sum of the debt is $300 million). Tajikistan will have to invest the remaining part of the debt ($50 million) in Russia’s share of the Sangtudinsk hydroelectric power plant. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov stated that “all buildings and land plots on the territory of the Russian military base have been passed over to Russia free of charge. The same concerns the Window complex.”
In the meantime, it is hardly likely that transporting supplies to the 201st division and the Nurek complex will be an easy task. Tajikistan has repeatedly increased tariffs on flights of Russian transport planes to Dushanbe. Tajikistan may impose many other taxes and duties.
The Russian leadership was guided by economic reasons when solving the issue of the control over the Tajik-Afghan border to Tajik servicemen. Before the border guard group was financed by Russia and Tajikistan (50 to 50). This burden will be shouldered on Tajikistan in 2006. Russia will establish an operational border guard group of the FSB on the border with Afghanistan. It will ensure information exchange but will not control the Tajik border guard group. No one knows if Tajik border guards will manage to stop drug trafficking.
Vladimir Putin stated in Dushanbe that Russia intends to invest $2 billion in the Tajik economy. The Russian military base will have to ensure the security of this investment. However, isn’t it a high price?
For instance, Russia will invest $560 million in the Rongunsk hydroelectric power plant. Russia invests money in modernization of two plants in the republic and a new aluminum plant in the east of Tajikistan ($160 million). RJES will invest money in building the Sangtudinsk hydroelectric power plant ($250 million). This investment amounts to over $1 billion.
In the meantime, the instability of the situation in the republic may undermine this effort and pose a threat to Russia’s investment in the Tajik economy.
In other words, Russia is trying to strengthen its influence in Tajikistan it should be noted that Iran and the US are trying to do the same. Putin’s visit to Dusanbe has shown that Moscow can defend its positions in regions where it has economic interests. In the meantime, there are many aspects, which may undermine Moscow’s effort to defendits’ positions in Tajikistan and other Central Asian countries. However, Russia is still taking risks. In the meantime, the Kremlin ha an opportunity to monopolize the energy market in Tajikistan and produce aluminum using these facilities with low production costs.