The U.S. embassy in Riga, Latvia, celebrated the 100,000th cargo container of military goods to be shipped through the Baltic states through Russia and Central Asia to Afghanistan. Also in Riga, the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a conference examining the future of this supply route, known as the Northern Distribution Network, and its applicability to future civilian transportation.
Georgia will close two of the bases that it operates from in Afghanistan after a suicide bomber killed seven Georgian soldiers, the country’s defense minister said. Another attack in May killed an additional three soldiers, bringing the total of Georgians killed in action in Afghanistan to 29. Georgia has the largest non-NATO contingent of soldiers in Afghanistan, currently numbering about 1,700.
Georgia’s Interior Ministry said that it foiled a terror plot, arresting two men from an unidentified post-Soviet country. Police seized a “large amount of powerful explosive material,” electric detonators, guns and ammunition, and fake identification documents from the Tbilisi apartment the two men lived in. It was not clear what the target of their attack was to have been.
Kazakhstan hosted military “anti-terror” exercises, with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan also participating. The exercises were held under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a political-military bloc including China, Russia, and all Central Asian states except Turkmenistan. According to Chinese state media, the scenario of the exercise focused on “eliminating terrorism groups in densely populated areas, [stopping] acts of terror and [saving] hostages.”
The European Union held its inaugural high-level security dialog with the deputy foreign ministers of the five Central Asian states. At the meeting, the sides agreed to heighten cooperation on issues including border control and countering drug trafficking.
The presidents of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan met in Tashkent, where they announced a strategic partnership. The partnership, between the two traditional rivals for regional leadership in Central Asia, included an agreement to not use force against one another and to not enter agreements with third countries that would harm the interest of the other.
Quick Hits from Central Asia and the South Caucasus:
Nine alleged members of Hizb Ut-Tahrir were arrested in Osh, southern Kyrgyzstan. Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a law allowing the U.K. to ship military equipment out of Afghanistan through its territory. Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would welcome Georgian help in ensuring security for the 2014 winter Olympics, to be held in Sochi. India is donating two military transport helicopters to Tajikistan. Kyrgyzstan said it plans to acquire air defense equipment from China. Indian soldiers conducted joint exercises with Mongolian counterparts, code-named “Nomadic Elephant.”