Russia and Tajikistan will continue negotiating over the extension of the Russian 201st Division's presence in Tajikistan next year, a top Russian military official has said. That contradicts recent reports that the two countries had come to an agreement on the presence of the division's base on the outskirts of Dushanbe, and that the agreement would be formally signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Dushanbe on October 5. From the AP:
Russia’s ground forces commander Vladimir Chirkin said in an interview on Ekho Mosky radio station that outstanding issues on the terms of the deal will continue to be discussed with Tajikistan until the end of March...
Chirkin said the Russian troops would work in a coalition with local forces, something that Tajikistan is believed to have pushed for during negotiations.
Tajikistan has said it would like $300 million annually in cash or equivalent in military assistance for the bases.
“We will undoubtedly provide military and technical assistance so that this coalition is fully supplied,” Chirkin said. “How large (that assistance) is to be will be calculated by the specialists.”
Chirkin said Tajikistan wants only a ten-year extension, while Russia wants 49 years. (The current agreement expires in 2014,) In addition, Chirkin said that Tajikistan is asking $100 million a year, according to RIA Novosti. (The numbers on this are all over the place; Kommersant reported this summer that Dushanbe was asking $250 million.)
Just on Friday, a Russian government official said the two sides were "very close" to a deal.
So was there a last-minute snag, or were the recent reports of a done deal not accurate? Putin's visit to Dushanbe is still on. But it looks like it might not exhibit as much friendship and brotherhood as we might have expected.