Russian-Kyrgyz Company in Fuel Deal with US Base
Saturday 1 October 2011
BISHKEK (Bloomberg) – A Russian-controlled company will soon start supplying 20% of the aviation fuel at the strategically vital U.S. air base in Kyrgyzstan, and it could eventually increase that share, officials said Tuesday.
- Barracks of the Manas Air Base
The Transit Center at Manas was activated in December 2001 when coalition forces deployed to Manas International Airport and began supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and the International Security Assistance Force after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The Transit Center has approximately 1,200 U.S. military and 900 Kyrgyz and Department of Defense contractor personnel performing day-to-day operations at the premier air mobility hub supporting military operations in Afghanistan. The wing’s around-the-clock missions include aerial refuelling, airlift, onward movement of troops, and building partnerships and continuing relationships with the people of the Kyrgyz Republic.
There have, however, been some concerns as to whether Russia and China are lobbying the Kyrgyz government to close the base.
The new supplier is Gazpromneft-Aero Kyrgyzstan, which is 51% owned by a subsidiary of Russia’s state natural gas monopoly Gazprom; the other 49% is owned by Kyrgyzstan.
The arrangement could ease concerns about corruption involving fuel supplies to the Manas Transit Centre, which provides logistical support for NATO in Afghanistan. The potential for significant revenue in their coffers also could reduce Moscow and Bishkek’s incentives to seek closure of the U.S. base.
Family members of the two previous Kyrgyz presidents, both of whom were overthrown in popular uprisings, have been accused of profiting from past dealings with the base. The issue was subject of a U.S. Congressional investigation last year.