News / Europe

Russian Ally Kyrgyzstan Sets US Air Base Closure Deadline

Parliament members attend a session in Bishkek, June 20, 2013.
Parliament members attend a session in Bishkek, June 20, 2013.
Reuters
Kyrgyzstan on Thursday gave the United States until July next year to shut its airforce base at Manas, a staging post for U.S. troops and supplies in the Afghanistan conflict but now deemed unnecessary as foreign forces pull out.
 
The move is likely to please Russia as it vies with the West and China for influence in the resource-rich region, once part of Soviet Central Asia.
 
Troops from NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are preparing to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, ending a costly and increasingly unpopular war launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by al-Qaida on U.S. cities.
 
The Manas Transit Center outside the capital Bishkek, which numbers about 1,000 U.S. servicemen, has been in operation since the end of 2001. The Kyrgyz government said in a note issued prior to a vote in parliament: “Further functioning of this facility is unnecessary”.
 
Parliament passed the law by 91 votes to five, setting a deadline of July 11, 2014, for the base to close.
 
Russia secured an extension of the lease of its own air base in Kyrgyzstan last September.
 
In the wake of the 2001 attacks, Moscow said it had no objections to the United States and its allies using Central Asia for deployment and transit of their troops and cargo to neighboring Afghanistan.
 
But the Kremlin later became wary of the growing foreign military presence in a region which was once its imperial backyard.
 
Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, elected in 2011, has staked heavily on closer ties with Russia and repeately assured Moscow that the U.S. air base would be shut in 2014.
 
Visiting Bishkek last September, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to write off nearly $500 million in debt from Kyrgyzstan in exchange for a package of deals that extended Moscow's economic and military foothold in the volatile nation.
 
This included a 15-year extension to Russia's lease of the Kant military air base outside Bishkek.
 
Kyrgyzstan, a mountainous nation of 5.5 million which lies on a drug trafficking route out of Afghanistan, has been hit by periodic bouts of violence and has seen two presidents deposed by revolts since 2005.
 
The economy, which contracted last year, relies heavily on a gold venture with Canada's Centerra Gold and cash remittances sent home by its migrant workers in Russia.
 
Ending its agreement on Manas with the United States,  Kyrgyzstan will lose annually $60 million paid by Washington for the lease, and maybe more significant sums in indirect revenues from the base, parliamentarian Akmatbek Keldibekov told Reuters.
 
Kyrgyzstan is part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (ODKB) of several post-Soviet states, which is led by Moscow. It is also a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization dominated by Russia and China.
 
“Politically, we won't renege on our commitments - we will stay with Russia both in the SCO and ODKB,” Keldibekov said.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs