As Ivan Safronov and Alexandra Djordjevic write in the article "The list that fills the imagination", published in today's issue of the newspaper Kommersant, Uzbekistan has decided on the types of weapons and military equipment that it would like to acquire in Russia. Interest concerns both armored vehicles and ammunition, as well as Su-30SM fighters. However, according to Kommersant's information, Uzbekistan's requests do not match its financial capabilities - despite the fact that it is unprecedented for the country - not a CSTO member - to pay for weapons and equipment at domestic prices.
The sources in the sphere of military-technical cooperation (MTC) told that Kommersant has determined the main types of weapons and military equipment that Russia would like to acquire in Russia. According to them, the list includes, in particular, combat and military transport helicopters, armored vehicles, small arms and ammunition. There is interest in the Su-30SM multifunctional fighters. "In August, a delegation of high-ranking Uzbek siloviki visited the Irkutsk Aircraft Building Plant, where it got acquainted with its production facilities," one of Kommersant's sources said. "They were pleased to see it." And on September 20, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev discussed the prospects of military-technical cooperation at a meeting with the Security Council Secretary under the President of Uzbekistan Viktor Makhmudov. The details of the meeting were not disclosed, however, according to Kommersant's information, the sides touched upon the issue of repairing military equipment that Tashkent inherited after the collapse of the USSR and in need of it (for example, T-62 and T-72 tanks to T-62M and T-72B3 or helicopters of type "Mi").
The cooperation between Moscow and Tashkent in the arms sector is rather modest: according to a source from Kommersant close to the RF Ministry of Defense, up to 2005, separate deliveries of BTR-80, Mi-8 helicopters, various caliber, grenade launchers with ammunition, and sniper weapons were conducted. Subsequently, the Uzbek security forces' interest was limited to supplies of ammunition (both rifle and artillery), as well as explosives, Kommersant's source continues: "They (explosives) were needed for special forces of state security agencies, which needed to penetrate into premises for the liquidation of a potential threat ". Russia and Uzbekistan did not conclude larger contracts.
The situation changed after the death of Uzbek President Islam Karimov. Already with his successor Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the military departments of the two countries signed on November 29, 2016 an agreement on the development of military-technical cooperation. In April 2017, the parties ratified the treaty: during the international conference on security, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu exchanged his letters with his Uzbek counterpart Kabul Berdiyev.
The terms of this treaty are "unprecedented," sources in the MTC say in the field of military-technical cooperation: Uzbekistan gets the same privileges with Russia's CSTO partners. In particular, the Uzbek military and other siloviki got the right to buy weapons and special equipment not for commercial but at domestic prices (for example, according to this scheme, Kazakhstan purchases Russian Su-30SM fighters). "This was done because Moscow wanted to attract Tashkent for geopolitical reasons and decided to give preferences equal to those of the CSTO member countries," one of the interlocutors said. Another source specifies that, coupled with the threat emanating from Afghanistan, the Russian negotiators expected that Uzbekistan would become "more compliant". However, this has not happened yet: according to him, before the conclusion of contracts, even under such a scheme "it is still very far". "Now they have a rather large list of desires, it greatly exceeds their capabilities and needs, but there is no guarantee that at least some of this will be acquired," the source of Kommersant believes.
Recall that in April, Deputy Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Vladimir Drozhzhov reported that Moscow and Tashkent are discussing the establishment of service centers in Uzbekistan to service military equipment and weapons. According to Kommersant's information, Russia expected that the Uzbek Su-25 attack aircraft (eight units) and the MiG-29 fighters (eight cars) awaiting repair would be modernized at the enterprises of the Russian aviation industry. However, according to Kommersant's information, even after signing the agreement, the Uzbek military preferred the first shipment of cars (four each) to Russia, not to Russia, and to Belarus to the 558th aircraft repair plant (Baranovichi). This step caused "some kind of bewilderment on the part of the Russian side," says the interlocutor in the sphere of military-technical cooperation: "We took a huge step forward, we did not feel a response yet."
Yesterday, the Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation refrained from commenting on "Kommersant".