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Russia negotiates terms for military base in Kyrgyzstan

Russia negotiates terms for military base in Kyrgyzstan
The annual rent for a unified Russian military base may exceed $4.5 million, according to Kyrgyz Defense Minister Abibilla Kudayberdiev.

­A working group from the Russian Defense Ministry is expected to negotiate the remaining issues on an agreement for a unified military base later this week. The delegation will be headed by the General Staff Deputy Chief, Valery Gerasimov.

The talks will focus on the duration of Russian servicemen’s presence in Kyrgyzstan, Kudayberdiev told Interfax on Tuesday. Another issue concerns Russia’s rent for the plot of land accommodating the military facilities. The exact terms to be discussed are still not clear.

Earlier Moscow and Bishkek had decided on a 49 year-term for a new agreement. As for the annual rent, some representative of the Kyrgyzstan government and regional administrations had already voiced plans to raise it.

The minister described all the previous negotiations between Russia and Kyrgyzstan as “constructive.” But the amount of rent depends on the government’s position and the administrations where the military facilities are located, Kudayberdiev said. He did not doubt that the rent would exceed the $4.5 million a year Kyrgyzstan receives today.

Russia pays only for its own facilities, and Bishkek does not plan to charge any rent for facilities “operating in the interests of Kyrgyzstan,” the minister said. These include the airbase of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Kant. Kyrgyzstan houses three other military facilities belonging to Russia.

Developing ties with the US and CSTO

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in December 2010 that Washington would not consider shutting down its Manas transit center in Kyrgyzstan until troops were pulled out of Afghanistan in 2014.

Last week, Kyrgyzstan and the US signed a $630-million contract on fuel supplies to the transit center at Bishkek’s Manas Airport, a crucial supply hub for the war in Afghanistan.

Bishkek will supply up to 50 percent of the requirements thanks to a Russian-Kyrgyz joint venture expected to start operating in March.

The Kyrgyz government said in early 2009 that US troops would leave the country, but later agreed to new terms. The US military airbase was turned into a transit center.

Bishkek has seemingly benefited by using its geopolitical positioning, having military deals with both Russia and the US. As a CSTO member state, Kyrgyzstan will continue to take part in the efforts to fight terrorism, drug trafficking and other challenges to security, CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha said on Tuesday. He is visiting Kyrgyzstan to discuss the cooperation with the country’s new leadership.

For the CSTO, one of the key tasks now is to provide assistance to the republic in the wake of the ousting of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April 2010. During a wave of ethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan later that year, more than 500 people were killed and about 2,500 injured.

Late last year, Kyrgyzstan managed to form its legitimate executive and legislative branches of government. The “revolutionary changes” resulted in the introduction of parliamentary rule, which makes Kyrgyzstan stand out from other CSTO countries, Bordyuzha noted. The republic now has no Security Council, and the CSTO has “to understand how to continue joint work,” he said.