US donates military vehicles to Uzbekistan as observers call for more co-operation

By Rustam Temirov

Uzbek soldiers demonstrate military equipment in Samarkand January 14, 2021. [Zamira Baltayeva]

Uzbek soldiers demonstrate military equipment in Samarkand January 14, 2021. [Zamira Baltayeva]

TASHKENT -- Uzbekistan should take the opportunity to increase military co-operation with the United States as Uzbek trust in Russia erodes as a result of the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine, observers say.

In late October, the United States delivered 50 Polaris MRZR light tactical combat mobility vehicles to the Uzbek Ministry of Defence in Tashkent, the US Embassy in Uzbekistan said in a statement.

The vehicles, valued at $2.8 million total, were transferred to Uzbek special forces through the Building Partner Capacity Programme, which is funded by the US Department of Defence.

The programme provides both equipment and training to partner countries free of charge.

Uzbek soldiers demonstrate weapons in Samarkand January 14, 2021. [Zamira Baltayeva]

Uzbek soldiers demonstrate weapons in Samarkand January 14, 2021. [Zamira Baltayeva]

"The transfer of this equipment is only one form of assistance the United States offers Uzbekistan in order to contribute to Uzbekistan's protection of its national sovereignty and territorial integrity," Maj. Gen. Wendul Hagler, the deputy commanding general of US Army Central, said at the transfer ceremony.

Army Central is the land component of US Central Command (CENTCOM).

"The United States looks forward to continuing to build on our partnership, which has greatly progressed over the last 31 years," he added.

The donation is the latest aid to be provided by the United States.

In April, the United States donated 50 Toyota Hilux pickup trucks and Toyota Fortuner sports utility vehicles to Uzbekistan's border guards.

Earlier in February, US defence contractor AeroVironment announced that it would supply Uzbekistan with $8.54 million worth of Puma reconnaissance drones by the end of November.

The Pentagon in 2015 delivered 308 M-ATV armoured vehicles to Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan's armed forces presently use the American MaxxPro Plus, Cougar and RG-33 armoured personnel carriers.

Brothers in arms

The training of Ukrainian soldiers provided by NATO and US programmes exemplifies why such co-operation is vital for Uzbekistan, said Pulat Akhunov, an Uzbek politician living in Sweden.

Many officers in the Ukrainian military went through training with NATO and the United States, he told Caravanserai.

Combined with Western weapons and military technology, the training has enabled Ukrainian troops to maintain an edge in defending against Russia's invasion, he said.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

"Unfortunately, when it comes to the military, Uzbekistan continues to prioritise Russian military thinking and Russian weapons," Akhunov said.

Partnership with the United States will not be truly effective until Uzbekistan completely steps away from its military and technical co-operation with the Kremlin, he noted.

"As long as that [work with Russia] continues, the United States will not trust Uzbekistan completely since the know-how and technology will end up on the desk of the General Staff of the Russian Ministry of Defence," Akhunov said.

The Uzbek government is grateful to its American partners for their steadfast support in strengthening the country's defence capability, said Farkhod Mirzabayev, a Tashkent political analyst.

Agreements on military and technical co-operation are truly working and generating benefits, he said.

"I find it heartening that the United States is willing to support our country by providing modern weapons. The war in Ukraine has shown that American weapons have a major advantage over Russian ones."

"In modernising the army, the Uzbek government absolutely needs to take the latest developments into account and buy only weapons that meet the modern needs of warfare," Mirzabayev said.

Further co-operation

Continued co-operation between Uzbekistan and the United States holds great promise, according to Akhunov, the politician.

"As far as I know, NATO and the United States want to shore up the military co-operation with Uzbekistan."

A potential Russian defeat in the war against Ukraine "will completely reconfigure the region. Uzbekistan will get a chance to cultivate a broad co-operation not just on military matters but also in democracy building", he said.

Mirzabayev expressed hope that the United States will further support Uzbekistan and help it bolster its defence capability.

"Considering recent developments, it would be beneficial for Uzbek military leaders to go through training in US military schools to gain invaluable experience and learn new things."

"After all, military science changes and we need to keep up with the times," he said.

It is clear that Russia, which considers itself the main power in Central Asia, is becoming weaker, said Nigara Khidoyatova, a politician living in the United States.

"Time will tell how the Central Asian countries, including Uzbekistan, turn that to their advantage," Khidoyatova said.

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8 Comment(s)

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It's none of your freaking business, dear trolls! You're not Uzbek. Uzbekistan finds partners of its own accord. // [in Uzbek] Агар ҳақиқатдан Ўзбекистон фуқароси бўлсаларинг, ўз фикр-мулоҳазаларингни ўзбек тилида ёзинглар.


It's a bad idea; Uzbekistan shouldn't shame itself. Who are they to give an ultimatum? Russia is always nearby. It's not worth souring their relationship with Russia. The USA is acting in an underhanded way. To be a traitor; shame!


Ukraine isn't enough for them; now they want to drive a wedge between Russia and Uzbekistan


There's no such thing as a free lunch


Who does Uzbekistan intend to fight?! Why these loads of equipment?! ))) The level of patriotism among the people is zero because the authorities don't give a damn about people's problems; why arm them?!


Why do analysts living outside Uzbekistan advise what's best for Uzbekistan? Weird




It's war wherever America is present. You don't need peace.