Kyrgyzstan’s Claims About Leasing of Russian Air Base in Kant Groundless


Kyrgyzstan’s claims about leasing of Russian air base in Kant are groundless because Bishkek has no reasons to demand payment for Russian military assets deployed in Kyrgyzstan, writes Kommersant.

According to Russian foreign and defense ministries, Atambayev “made a muddle”. Kyrgyzstani government confirmed that, although laid new claims to Russia, writes Kommersant.

Recently accused Russia of systematic default in lease payment for Kant Air Station and even frightened Moscow by closing the base, Kyrgyzstan president Almazbek Atambayev got into embarrassing situation.

As it turned out, loud statements and menaces are by no means justified. According to Russian diplomats and military officials, the Kyrgyzstan’s leader “must have either read carelessly or haven’t read at all” the bilateral agreement regulating status and deployment conditions of the Russian air base in Kant. In particular, Article 5 of that document says that Russian military servicemen are located there on a free-of-charge basis. However, Russian officials admit debts to Kyrgyzstan, but for distinctly different assets leased by Moscow. Namely, Karakol ASW Test Range, Russian Navy’s 338-th Communication Center in Spartak, and Russian defense ministry’s autonomous seismic point in Mailuu-Suu.

Moscow uses those assets in accordance with the agreement tied in 1993, and is supposed to pay for them. But not money though. Instead of lease payment, it was agreed that Russian Defense Ministry would train military personnel and provide Kyrgyzstan Armed Forces with equipment. However, Moscow has not met these commitments since 2008. One theory is that Kyrgyzstan requested defense products which Russia could not offer. Another theory is that the reason was unstable interior situation in Kyrgyzstan.

“In 2008-2009, we desisted from arms export to Kyrgyzstan because of strained political situation there”, said a source in Russian defense ministry. Anyway, those $15 mln Atambayev talked about as indebtedness for leasing of the Kant air base will be transferred to Bishkek in the next few days.

As a matter of fact, the source in Kyrgyzstan government affirmed that Almazbek Atambayev made a mistake when claiming money for air station in Kant.

“Speaking of Russia’s debts for military assets, he meant communication center and antisubmarine weapons test range. Overall area of leased objects is 863 hectares plus a part of water space in the Lake Issyk Kul. Annual lease payment is $4.5 mln. Considering that Russia has not paid since 2008, now the debt makes about $15 mln“, said the official. Nonetheless, Bishkek have some other claims on 999-th Air Station in Kant despite absence of debt.

“Although the base is used on the free-of-charge basis, it was supposed to fulfill some obligations. For one, the Kant air base must have train Kyrgyzstani pilots and repair four L-39 training airplanes handed over by Kyrgyzstan, but failed”, said the official. “Finally, the agreement provides that the base must execute defense functions, but it did nothing in the summer of 2010 [mass murders in Osh]”, said the spokesman for Kyrgyzstani government.

Naval Today Staff , March 05, 2012