Russia considers the transfer of U.S. military equipment from Afghanistan to Central Asian armed forces to be "unacceptable," and contrary to agreements those countries have signed as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. That's according to an anonymous Russian diplomat quoted in the newspaper Kommersant (and helpfully translated into English by RIA Novosti).
The U.S., recall, has said it is planning to hand over some of the equipment it is now using in Afghanistan to Central Asian militaries, as part of the U.S.'s Excess Defense Articles program. From Kommersant:
If implemented, this plan would allow Washington to expand its military cooperation with Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) member countries. A Russian diplomat said, on condition of anonymity, that Moscow considers this scenario to be “absolutely unacceptable....”
A Russian diplomat said this scenario ran counter to specific agreements with Moscow’s Central Asian partners and other agreements within the CSTO framework.
But the last two paragraphs of the Kommersant story gently suggest that Russia's objections may not really be about the legal issues of the CSTO:
A sizable U.S. presence might emerge on the Central Asian arms market, which primarily receives Soviet and Russian-made equipment. Moscow’s partners might eventually get used to having U.S. equipment.
It appears that CSTO members have every right to independently negotiate U.S. military equipment deliveries, all the more so as Moscow has recently turned Ulyanovsk into a transshipment center for NATO consignments being withdrawn from Afghanistan, without coordinating the decision with the CSTO.
The report also has a few details about exactly what equipment the U.S. is considering handing over to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan:
The republics will receive some of the equipment, including armored vehicles, tank transporters, prime movers, tank trucks, special-purpose graders, bulldozers and water trucks, free of charge. Some of this equipment will be stored at local installations. In addition, the Pentagon plans to provide Afghanistan’s neighbors with medical equipment, communications systems, fire extinguishing equipment and even mobile gyms and other household facilities.
Assuming that list is accurate, the most intriguing item on it is the armored vehicles. It's not clear from the report whether any of the potentially more lethal items on that list, like the armored vehicles, would be restricted from, say, Uzbekistan, which has been the subject of Congressionally mandated restrictions on weapons transfers from the U.S. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake was asked about this in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty a few months ago:
[T]hus far, we have not been willing to transfer any kind of lethal weapons to Uzbekistan. The majority of the assistance that we've been providing as a result of the waver has been protective equipment and non-lethal assistance to help them to defend themselves against potential retribution for the support that they're providing to the United States.
Key words there being "thus far." But anyway, that is a drama to be played out in Washington. What this new report suggests is that this could become an issue in the increasingly difficult U.S.-Russia relationship, as well.