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Cooperation on regional and global issues

24 - Relations with Russia on Afghanistan and Central Asia

Grade: B
Unity 4/5
Resources 3/5
Outcome 6/10
Total 13/20
Scorecard 2012: B- (12/20)

There was a big improvement in cooperation with Russia in Afghanistan and during the crisis in Kyrgyzstan, though there was little progress elsewhere in Central Asia.

The EU wants Russia to provide logistical support to the NATO operation and the EUPOL mission in Afghanistan and to cooperate on soft security issues such as border control, drug trafficking, the environment, and infrastructure in Central Asia. In 2010, the EU also wanted Russia to help contain the crisis in Kyrgyzstan, where EU diplomats play an important role on the ground through the OSCE.

In 2010, there was a big improvement in Russia-NATO cooperation on the ground in Afghanistan, although it was the US rather than the EU that played the crucial role in this. The Northern Distribution Network through Russia and Central Asia now provides 49 percent of supplies. There has also been cooperation on joint drugs raids and supplying helicopters to the Afghan government. However, the EU devoted far fewer resources to securing Russian cooperation elsewhere in Central Asia. Apart from France and Germany, which have strong bilateral ties with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, member states had little interest in the region. As a result, there was little progress on soft security cooperation.

After the outbreak of violence in Kyrgyzstan in June, the EU played a marginal role in crisis management. However, in sharp contrast to previous confrontations in other parts of its “near abroad”, Russia cooperated with the US, which shared the EU’s objectives. For example, Russia and Kazakhstan made sure President Kurmanbek Bakiyev left Kyrgyzstan in April in order to avoid civil war, and Russia also refused Kyrgyzstan’s request for a military intervention. Both the EU and Russia supported an OSCE police mission to south Kyrgyzstan after the crisis was over, but the interim Kyrgyz government opposed it (see also component 61).