Ukraine Snake Island Flag - Buy it Here!


Kyrgyzstan says Russians will retain military presence

RIA Novosti

25/03/2008 13:21 BISHKEK, March 25 (RIA Novosti) - Kyrgyzstan has never questioned the presence of Russian troops and military facilities on its territory and has no plans for their withdrawal, the Kyrgyz defense minister said on Tuesday.

"The agreement on the presence is automatically extended each year," Ismail Isakov said, adding that, "it is beneficial for both sides."

The minister said that Russia annually pays some $4.5 million to Kyrgyzstan for the military bases and also provides Bishkek with military and technical equipment as part of the lease agreements.

He added that this year Kyrgyzstan expects to receive from Moscow military and technical equipment worth $2.5 million.

The minister also said Russia has a naval base on the shores of Late Issyk-Kul, a Russian air base in Kant and military units in Chaldovar village.

The minister's statement comes in the wake of Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's announcement last month that Bishkek would eventually demand that the United States close down its Ganci airbase at Manas airport, some 30 kilometers (17 miles) east of the capital, which supports antiterrorism operations in Afghanistan.

Although Russia has encouraged Bishkek to demand the withdrawal of American troops, the impoverished nation of five million depends on U.S. support and the military base has generated jobs and is a strong contributor to the Kyrgyz economy.

Russia established in October 2003 its own airbase in Kant, about 20 miles west of the Kyrgyz capital. The Russian base currently deploys about 400 troops, as well as 20 combat and transport planes, helicopters, and L-39 trainers.

Russian troops are stationed at Kant under an agreement in the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) - a regional security bloc in Central Asia, which also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Join the mailing list