Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan Border Clashes: A 6 Month Outlook 

From the 14-16th of September, the armed forces of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan engaged in multiple violent skirmishes in which the casualty count reached 100. The border between the two nations was always hotly contested as it is not demarcated. This caused frequent flare-ups of violence in the past. This skirmish takes place at an interesting time, as Russia, who would normally intervene, is occupied in Ukraine. Further, the outbreak of violence in Armenia recently demonstrated that former Soviet republics are no longer towing the Russian line as closely as before.  

KJ-1: It is likely violent skirmishes will erupt again between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the next 6 months.

  • Fierce fighting between Tajik and Kyrgyz forces continued killing at least 24 on the 16th of September despite national leaders agreeing to a ceasefire earlier that day. (Source)
  • This particular instance of violence was much greater in intensity compared to previous ones with combined arms utilised. (Source)
  • Despite the recent ceasefire tensions remain high with Tajikistan accusing Kyrgyzstan of failing to withdraw military hardware from the contested border. (Source)
  • Both sides repeatedly claimed the other has broken the ceasefire since it was agreed. (Source)
  • Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan blamed the other for firing first with neither claiming responsibility. (Source
  • Violent clashes over the contested regions are extremely common and have escalated dramatically in the past such as in march 2021. (Source
  • There were over 230 border incidents in the last 20 years. (Source)
  • Although a new settlement was signed between the two nations on 25th September it is similar to previous agreements. (Source)

KJ-2: It is likely that Russia will fail in its attempts to mediate the dispute in the next 6 months.  

  • Putin urged for a peaceful resolution on the 18th of September but did not take any steps beyond this. (Source)
  • Due to Russia’s botched invasion of Ukraine.  It was forced to begin partial mobilisation resulting in civil unrest, leaving it with little time to deal with such border disputes. (Source)
  • Russia did not manage to stop the recent outbreak of violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan despite previous deployments of peacekeepers. (Source)
  • Russia’s normal strategy of coercive mediation is unlikely to work in this dispute as Russia is currently far too distracted with its own problems. (Source)
  • Furthermore, Russia’s international standing plummeted dramatically since the outbreak of war in Ukraine. (Source)

KJ-3: It is highly likely that former Soviet republics will look for foreign allies and opportunities with greater urgency in the next 6 months.

  • Due to the lack of Russian assistance, Armenia sought closer ties with the USA. (Source
  • The CTSO is being criticised by its members who do not feel Russia has their best interests at heart. (Source)
  • Both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are members of The Shanghai Cooperation Zone who recently met from the 14-16th September demonstrating how China is increasingly playing a role in former Soviet Republics. (Source
  • Kyrgyzstan announced an ambitious infrastructure program with China. (Source)
  • With Turkey looking to join the SCZ even more economic opportunities are opening up for former Soviet republics. (Source)
  • Russia will carry out joint military exercises in Kazakhstan between 26th September and 8th October. (Source)
  • The Kazakhstani regime is reliant on Russian troops to stay in power since its riots in January. (Source)

Intelligence cut-off date: 4 October 2022

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