News / Europe

Russia Boosts Military, Economic Ties With Kyrgyzstan

Kokab Farshori
The U.S. Air Force base in Kyrgyzstan is packing up for closure after more than 12 years of flying troops and cargo in and out of Afghanistan, as Moscow boosts its military clout in the strategic region. Against the backdrop of the Russian actions in Ukraine, experts say Russia’s increasing economic and military influence in the impoverished former Soviet state can be a big strategic gain for Moscow.

Russian-Kyrgyz economic and defense relations are strengthening at a steady pace. Last month, Russia announced that Kyrgyzstan would receive modern Russian weaponry.

Kyrgyzstan is a mainly Muslim country with volatile politics. Leonid Bondarets, a defense analyst based in the Kyrgyz capital city, Bishkek, said good relations between Moscow and Bishkek may mean fewer worries for Moscow about religious extremism. He said when Russia has a friendly government next door, it will not have to worry about seeing the extremism being exported to its territory.

Modernizing the military

Russia is helping Kyrgyzstan modernize its armed forces and last year gave Bishkek a $1.2 billion military package. Russia also operates four military installations in Kyrgyzstan. They include the Kant Air Base near Bishkek and a naval test site in the Tien Shan mountains.

Bondarets, however, said Russia’s close military ties with Kyrgyzstan should not be seen as an attempt to bring the former Soviet state under the umbrella of the Russian security forces. He said the former Soviet states will have to maintain their independence and be responsible for their own security.

Bondarets said Russia is not the Soviet Union anymore in a military sense. That won’t happen anytime soon. He said, therefore, it is in Russia's interests that the Central Asian states take care of their own security.

Russia also provides substantial economic assistance to Kyrgyzstan by helping build its infrastructure. Alisher Yusupov is an expert on economic affairs based in Osh, the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan. He said Russia is helping the country build hydropower stations, assisting it with gas supplies and helping develop its transportation and banking sectors.

Geopolitical maneuvering

Yusupov said Kyrgyzstan accepts Russia as a large economic, military and political partner. This also plays to Russia’s own geopolitical interest in the region, because Kyrgyzstan has a unique location. It is right in the center of Central Asia and it neighbors China.

As Kyrgyzstan seeks closer ties with Russia, the national parliament last year gave Washington until this coming July to close its base at Manas. Yusupov is among the regional experts who say Bishkek will look to fill a revenue gap after the Americans leave.

He said Kyrgyzstan annually earned $140 million from air base lease, taxes and other payments. Now as the U.S. leaves the base, Bishkek may be looking to receive similar compensation from Russia.

And, experts say, it's likely that Moscow may consider it for the sake of its national interests.

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Comment Sorting
by: Sergey from: NY
March 08, 2014 9:04 PM
It's true about oil, however we should remember that all these countries got scared of revolutions after Kaddafi, and SCO now have in their agreement "help" for such cases.

by: MikeBarnett from: USA
March 08, 2014 1:14 PM
Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan form the Shanghai Cooperation Organization or SCO. They agreed to watch Afghanistan after the US and NATO leave in 2014. They have conducted joint police and military exercises to prepare. Russia fights muslim rebels in the Caucasus; China fights them in Xinjiang; and the Taliban wants a central Asian caliphate including all 7 "stans." Russia and China build infrastructure such as roads, railroads, and airports for better logistics than the costly nightmare the US and NATO have endured. They improve economies to gain better stability for the present and the future.

Russia and China fight the same islamic insurgents that the US and NATO have fought for nearly 13 years. The US and future NATO countries were military allies of Russia and China in WWII. The West did not adopt the dictatorial political systems of Russia and China during or after that war, and the West need not adopt the the East's political systems in the current conflict. However, the West could use the increase in manpower, the strategic locations of the SCO, the oil and gas of Russia, and the industrial production of China in the continuing conflict against islamic insurgents.

After bin Laden's death, al Zawahiri has moved al Qaeda within striking distance of the oil and gas of north Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Middle East. He threatens the oil and gas that western mechanized economies and mechanized militaries need. Also, western economies develop, purchase, and support their militaries. His attacks raise the terror premium that increases revenues to Arab oil states, raises Arab donations for al Qaeda, damages the West's economies and militaries, and lets the West pay for both sides in the war. This is another major reason that the West needs the world's biggest oil and gas station in Russian Siberia on the side of the West in its current and continuing conflict.

by: MikeBarnett from: USA
March 08, 2014 11:49 AM
Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization or SCO. They agreed to watch Afghanistan after the US and NATO leave in December. They have held joint police and military exercises to prepare. Russia fights islamic rebels in the southern Caucasus; China fights them in Xinjiang; and the Taliban wants a central Asian caliphate that would include all 7 "stans." These countries live in the region and won't have the expensive logistics that the US and NATO have had with many supply columns going through the Taliban dominated tribal areas of western Pakistan. China has built roads, railroads, and airports in central Asia for logistical support and for economic development that reduces extremism.

Russia and China are de facto military allies of the US and NATO as they were in WWII. The US and future NATO countries did not adopt the dictatorial political systems of Russia and China in WWII, and the West need not adopt their allies' systems in the current world war. The West needs the East's manpower, the oil and gas of Russian Siberia, and the industrial production of China. The US and NATO have been losing the war for 13 years. They need new allies and better strategies and tactics.

by: Haron from: Afghanistan
March 08, 2014 1:54 AM
this is call a best and real friendship who spent billions of billion Dollar or Rouble for a real develop and civilized country for 200 years. I am sure it could keep the changes for 200 years in Kyrgyzstan if infrastructure could be a big point for Russia.
When I hear or read such news's it is really amazing for me.

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