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Russia Discusses Rearmament with Uzbekistan to Modernize its Air Defense Capabilities.

On May 27, 2024, during a live broadcast on Channel One, Dmitry Shugayev, the Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, announced that Russia is currently in discussions with Uzbekistan concerning the rearmament of the Central Asian Republic’s air defense forces. These talks are part of a broader military-technical cooperation between the two nations, which also aims to modernize land equipment and air forces.
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According to SIPRI data, Russia delivered at least one S-125 Pechora-2M system to Uzbekistan in 2010
(Picture source: Wikimedia Commons)

According to Dmitry Shugayev, the director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, an agreement on the rearmament program is currently under consideration. This program will encompass the air forces and air defense, as well as land equipment, covering a broad range of military capacities. "We will discuss, then develop and assist our counterparts," Shugayev stated. These developments are in response to a decree by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev that calls for the formation of a state commission by March 2024 aimed at equipping the republic’s armed forces, following the progression of several contracts established on November 29, 2016, which seek to advance military-technical cooperation between the two nations.

The Uzbek army, comprising about 70,000 personnel with 28 brigades, 340 tanks (T-62, T-64, and T-72), and 530 armored vehicles, has seen its defense budget steadily increase, reaching $797 million for the current year. Since leaving the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in 2012, Uzbekistan has increasingly turned to other foreign partners, including Turkey, for military and technological support.

Uzbekistan, strategically located at the heart of Central Asia, plays a crucial geopolitical role due to its proximity to major regional powers such as Russia, China, and Middle Eastern nations. This central position makes Uzbekistan a key player in regional security issues and a vital transit point for economic and security initiatives, including new economic and energy Silk Roads.

Since gaining independence in 1991, Uzbekistan has alternated between a policy of close cooperation with Russia and attempts to diversify its military and defense partnerships. The defense cooperation between Russia and Uzbekistan, rooted in a shared history dating back to the Soviet era, has materialized through several bilateral military-technical cooperation agreements. These agreements encompass the delivery of armaments, the modernization of existing military equipment, and the development of new defense technologies.

Recent engagements between the two countries primarily aim to enhance Uzbekistan’s air defense capabilities, an area where Russia possesses advanced expertise. This collaboration was solidified with contracts for the delivery of air defense systems; for example, according to SIPRI data, Russia delivered at least one S-125 Pechora-2M system to Uzbekistan in 2010.

Russia has also delivered modern military helicopters, such as the Mi-35, which enhance the mobility and rapid response capabilities of the Uzbek army. In addition to providing new equipment, Russia assists Uzbekistan in upgrading its existing military hardware, including the modernization of combat tanks like the T-72, equipped with modern armor technology, targeting systems, and communications. This modernization helps prolong the lifespan of equipment and enhances its battlefield effectiveness.

The cooperation extends to the joint development of new technologies, particularly in electronic warfare and drones, crucial for border surveillance and counter-terrorism efforts. These initiatives also include training and exchanges between the militaries of the two countries, enhancing the skills of Uzbek forces and enriching the interoperability between the two armies.

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