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Russia Delivers Military Aid to Kyrgyzstan

Wednesday 18 January 2012

BISHKEK (Reuters) – Kyrgyzstan received military trucks and communications equipment from Russia on Wednesday, the first part of an aid package to reinforce its fragile borders ahead of the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from nearby Afghanistan.

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The Kyrgyz government has called upon Russia, Turkey and US to transform the US military base in Kyrgyzstan to a civilian transit centre. According to Ekho Moskvy Kyrgyz office’s chief, Yevgeny Guskov, the initiative came since conflict between Iran and Western countries is unfolding. “Recent developments force us to think about a possible Iranian attack on this US base,” the expert says. Thus he concludes that the Kyrgyz authorities are simply afraid of such an attack. Guskov also underlines that Kyrgyz leaders are seeking stronger ties with Russia. Guskov believes that the parties will manage to negotiate the base’s transition to a civilian facility.
(Source: Vestnik Kavazka)

Russia is supplying the equipment to increase security on the southern flanks of a region it still considers its sphere of influence. The aid package, worth about US $16 million, reinforces ties between the two countries, whose newly elected president pleased the Kremlin by opposing the renewal of the lease on a U.S. military air base in the country beyond 2014.

Mainly Muslim Kyrgyzstan lies on a drug-trafficking route out of Afghanistan. Like Russia, it is also concerned about a possible spillover of Islamist militancy as NATO-led troops prepare to leave Afghanistan by 2014.

Nikolai Bordyuzha, secretary-general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russia-led regional security body, said last March that the withdrawal of NATO troops would create a threat to the entire Central Asian region. The same month, Russia pledged technical and financial aid to Kyrgyzstan as part of a three-year program to fight the trafficking of drugs from Afghanistan.

Russia, like the United States, operates a military air base in Kyrgyzstan. Both countries have been in talks about the construction of separate training centres in the south of the country to counter the threat of crime and Islamist militancy.

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