Kyrgyzstan Requested U.S. Military Aid and Rubber Bullets but was Turned Down

Ethnic Uzbeks residences burn after being torched by Kyrgyz men, in Jalal-Abad, Kyrgyzstan.

From Steve LeVine, Foreign Policy:  Before Kyrgyzstan turned to Russia, it informally asked Washington for military assistance including a supply of rubber bullets to quell ethnic bloodletting in the south of the country, but was turned down, I am told by people privy to the situation. Russia says it may deploy troops if it’s a collective regional decision.

Kyrgyz President Rosa Otunbayeva made the request of Washington for troops and rubber bullets after Kyrgyz and Uzbeks living in the city of Osh began to fight on Friday. She formally asked for Russian help yesterday, putting the timing of the request to the U.S. sometime in between.

A senior Obama administration official, speaking to me on condition of anonymity, denied that the U.S. has received any formal Kyrgyz request for military assistance. …

Here’s what the Obama administration official told me:

Unlike other scenarios, in terms of U.S.-Russian and U.S.-Soviet behavior in times of crisis, so far one is struck by the incredible amount of cooperation between our government and the government in Moscow. Because so far, we have the strong feeling that our interest and the Russian interest are aligned.

We hear privately that if we get to the moment that unavoidably there has to be troops, we will be doing it in a cooperative way, not a zero-sum way. We’d like the international community to be fully invested and supportive if military intervention happens.

(photo: AP)

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