Russian Iskander missiles on Kazakhstan border meant to put pressure on United States04 april 2014, 15:23
Russia plans to build new special storage facilities for Iskander missile systems at a mere 100km (62ml) distance from the Kazakhstani border, Tengrinews wrote last week. If necessary, the tactical missiles can be swiftly moved on the territory of Kazakhstan; this is provided by the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) agreement between the two countries. Several experts have shared their opinion on the possible reasons of this move with Tengrinews.
Askar Shimpeev, Chairman of the Union of Combat Veterans and Participants of Peacekeeping Operations of Kazbat, believes that the deployment of Russian Iskander missiles on the border with Kazakhstan is a way to put some pressure on the United States while they will be withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan through Kazakhstan. Shimpeev also suggested that the deployment of missile complexes can be connected to the upcoming major CSTO military exercise on the ranges in Aktobe region, which borders the Russian region of Orenburg. In addition, Shimpeev said that CSTO forces could be used to resolve possible negative scenarios in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan that border on Kazakhstan from the south.
According to Shimpeev, the U.S. might deliberately draw out the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan – a process which will be happening through Kyrgyzstan’s Manas airbase and Kazakhstan’s seaport in Aktau. And the large American contingent on the backyard of Russia would cause worries for the latter. Therefore, he concluded, the missile transfer was a “chess move”.
Former Deputy Minister of Defense of Kazakhstan Amirbek Togusov also shared his opinion on the issue. He believes that the deployment of Iskander missile complexes on the border with Kazakhstan may be part of a general Russian airspace security program, which was planned in advance but could not be accomplished earlier for economic reasons. "Now there is a revival of the Russian economy. The country is developing its military-industrial complex and upgrading the existing weapons. Therefore, in terms of protecting their interests, their actions are understandable," Togusov said.
The ex-Vice-Minister believes that the Russian Iskanders do not pose a threat to Kazakhstan and will not impact the security of the neighboring states. “I think that this decision was not one-sided but was made with a consent of all the participants of the Unions (CSTO and SCO). It is unlikely that Russia, especially in this situation, would go beyond the scope of these agreements and raise eyebrows of its partners," he added. Furthermore, he believes that the placement of Iskander missiles on Kazakhstan's border is good for its air safety as well.
Meanwhile, Russian experts believe that missiles would protect the former Soviet republics from possible threats originating in Central Asia. The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan may lead to a destabilization in the whole region. They believe that the current Afghani government does not have adequate control over the country, which may lead to resurgence of radical Islam. There is a chance that these developments spill over to the neighboring territories, especially the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia. Therefore, the experts assert that the cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan benefits both countries and the Iskanders can be seen as one of the technological advantages of such cooperation.
Iskander mobile theater ballistic missile systems are short-range ballistic missiles that can be equipped with several different warheads, including a cluster munitions warhead, a fuel-air explosive enhanced-blast warhead, a high explosive-fragmentation warhead, an earth penetrator for bunker busting and an electro-magnetic pulse device for anti-radar missions. The missiles can also carry nuclear warheads.
The Iskander-M that will be deployed 100km from the Kazakh border in the beginning of next year have an operational range of 500 kilometers that can be increased to 2,000 kilometers by use of P-500 cruise missiles. This means that with the missile systems deployed at the Kazakhstan border the Russian Army would be able to target most anything as far as the southern and south-eastern borders of Kazakhstan.
Reporting by Vladimir Prokopenko, writing by Dinara Urazova