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Bakiyev in the (former) USSR

Pat Frost at Great Power Politics blogs on the Russia-influenced closure of the Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan.  According to the AP, the Russians deny any connection between the aid deal and the air base, but “many experts saw Kyrgyzstan’s decision as a straightforward business deal: Bishkek evicts the Americans, Moscow hands over more than $2 billion.” (duh.)

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This whole move is very discouraging as Moscow-DC-NATO seemed to be making inroads regarding Afghan stability and supply routes and this counters that goal implicitly. The US has not been kicked out yet and this could just be a slight power play by Moscow to force US concessions elsewhere (missile shields, NATO expansion). Bishkek could also be using this financial crisis to obtain more rent from the US military as it has done so before after the SCO Astana Declaration demanded the US withdraw from all CA bases.

American political and military officials state that nothing has been decided yet and there is still hope an agreement can be reached to keep the US in Manas. Though if this push out becomes a reality it will likely mean a loss of American influence and strategic capacity in Central Asia and further deteriorating of Washington-Moscow relations.  Russia seems willing to deal and obstruct at the same time.  It seems they are at one time balancing against the threat of Central Asia instability and in the next moment balancing against the threat of US dominance in their perceived backyard.

I doubt the US will take this closure attempt laying down and I’m sure as we speak US officials are negotiating with Bakiyev and his parliament about a new deal to keep the base in play for American forces.  But Moscow’s money and regional influence will be hard to shake for the Kyrgyz government and one should expect that if the US gets to keep the base, rent prices will once again skyrocket.