Western press has taken notice of Central Asia this week primarily because of the deal between NATO, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, allowing the alliance to use their territory in the evacuation of vehicles and military equipment from Afghanistan. The agreement bypasses Pakistan, who has angered the US over a number of issues relating to transport, shutting down the central transport route six months to retaliate for the airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan has agreed to reopen the routes, but stated they would charge taxes of approximately 5,000 USD per transport truck. While the new route gives NATO some flexibility on their transport routes, it will add days to each shipment, as Pakistan was the main, and most efficient, supply route.
The new route makes use of NATO’s agreement with Russia, where NATO will then ship tens of thousands of vehicles, containers and equipment back to Europe. Russia has proposed allowing NATO to set up a logistics facility at the air base in Ulyanovsk, Russia. Hard to tell if this is because Russia wants to show cooperation with NATO on an issue or if it wants to facilitate their exit as fast as possible.
Danger Room (more on Pakistan and the transport stalemate)
Also of note – US has allotted 4.6 million to law enforcement agencies for material and technical in Kyrgyzstan. It will be interesting to see if law enforcement and defense aid increases as the withdrawal progresses, especially if the transport stalemate continues with Pakistan.