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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More