Chapter 8: Central Asia
Central Asia emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union as a collection of five states, none of which, unlike their counterparts in the Caucasus or the Baltic States, had fought intensely for independence. All five Central Asian governments were tasked with building new, independent states with accompanying institutions, as well as extricating themselves from the legacies of integration in a Soviet system that had centrally managed most security, economic and political functions (Gleason 1997; Cummings 2012). The challenges of independence were particularly daunting in the area of security. The Central Asian states had to forge new armed forces and accompanying governing institutions to manage the disintegration of the formidable Soviet army, its equipment, installations and coordinating system (Marat 2010). The challenge was exacerbated by the exodus of Slavic officers and defense industry professionals from these countries, leaving a dearth of trained experts in the security field. In remote Tajikistan, Soviet collapse rapidly led to state collapse that plunged Tajikistan into a civil war in 1992, and saw Russia and neighboring Uzbekistan intervene to support the Communist-era government (Rubin 1993; Heathershaw 2009). Together with Russia in the early 1990s, the Central Asian states had to devise new arrangements to manage and transfer ownership of major Soviet era functions and assets. For instance, Russia continued to guard the Central Asian states’ external borders in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan for several years (Gavrilis 2008). Under the so-called Tashkent principles of 1992, most Soviet-era equipment was transferred to the country on which it was resting.
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