During the Soviet era, military planners regarded Turkmenistan
as a crucial border region because of its proximity to Iran and
other strategic areas such as the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan.
Consequently, a large number of Soviet army troops were stationed
in the republic, which was virtually closed to foreigners. Since
independence and the formation of a national armed force, Turkmenistan
has maintained a posture of neutrality and isolationism, while
at the same time pursuing a bilateral military alliance with the
Russian Federation. Russia continues to regard Turkmenistan as
a key element in its sphere of military interests. For that reason,
Russia has secured agreements for stationing border guards and
air defense forces in Turkmenistan. Russia also supports the building
of the national armed forces by providing training for officers
and sharing force maintenance costs.
Data as of March 1996