Tuesday, July 17, 2012 -
Russia and Tajikistan have tentatively agreed to a deal on Russia's proposed extension of a military lease by 49 years, Russian and Tajik officials said Tuesday.
Russia will pay no rent for the facility, and will instead provide Tajikistan with cheap weapons, the Reuters news agency reported.
"The Tajik side considers the draft agreement between Russia and Tajikistan, strengthening the 201st military base's presence there for another 49 years, as acceptable,” the RIA Novosti news agency reported Russia’s ground forces commander Vladimir Chirkin as saying.
“The [Tajik] republic's leadership intends to bring about a joint agreement quickly."
A Tajik source close to the negotiations says Tajikistan accepted the deal because "it has no trump cards to play with Russia."
"If we reject Russia's terms, it will be able to pressure us, while we won't have anything to resist it," the source said, requesting anonymity.
"Let's face the truth: we have unstable Afghanistan in the south and Uzbekistan, which is far from being friendly, to the west and the north."
Tajikistan had reportedly been pressing Moscow to pay at least $250 million per year for the base, in negotiations the Kremlin described as tough owing to stubbornness on the part of the Tajik negotiators.
Under the current lease, which ends in 2014, Moscow does not pay cash to lease the garrisons for its 201st Division but instead provides Tajikistan with military training and equipment on a pro-rata basis.
The deal was initially to be agreed and signed in the first quarter of this year, but was stalled when Tajikistan slapped on some 20 new conditions, according to the Kremlin.
Tajikistan hosts nearly 7,000 Russian troops, the Kremlin’s second largest contingent of military forces beyond its own territory after its Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine.