A couple billion dollars can go a really long way in some Central Asian countries, and its a pity that the United States and other NATO members didn’t realize that President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was more or less “up for sale.” But the Kremlin jumped in first with a generous aid package, the troops will get kicked out of the Manas air base by the end of August, and any chance of Washington renegotiating for access to the base are unlikely now that Moscow has opened up the taps – delivering some of the first tranches of the package to the tune of $450 million. The autocrats of Bishkek are happy tonight… especially with an election coming up in July. Is it really possible that in the transfer of power between U.S. administrations that this important detail was overlooked?
From the Wall Street Journal:
An official close to the situation said that Kyrgyz officials had worried that Moscow was balking at delivery of the aid but that had “calmed down” with the latest transfers. The Kyrgyz embassy said Bishkek was confident Moscow will fulfill its promises. Facing a sharp drop in budget revenues and declining reserves, the Kremlin is planning to cut back some domestic spending, but is continuing to offer financial aid to its former-Soviet neighbors.
The U.S., whose troops must leave by the end of August, has said it is still talking to the Kyrgyz government about prolonging its lease on the airbase in Kyrgyzstan, which is the main hub for ferrying troops and equipment into Afghanistan.
The government has said the eviction decision is final. Earlier this week Kyrgyzstan’s prime minister denied any official talks are underway.