Oct 29, 2013
Russia to double number of warplanes at Kyrgyzstan airbase
Kant, which is Russia’s only military base in Central Asia, currently hosts 10 Sukhoi fighters, two Mi-8 helicopters and about a dozen other transport and training airplanes.
The Kant base is seen as a vital tool to increase Russian influence in the region after the US lease at its Manas base expires in July 2014.
Despite previous disagreements, Moscow and Bishkek signed a deal in September, which prolonged Russian stay at Kant until 2032. The Kremlin agreed to write off nearly half a billion dollars in Kyrgyzstan’s debt in exchange for the contract.
The airbase, situated 20 kilometers from the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, has a contingent of 250 Russian officers and 150 soldiers.
After the NATO troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, it’ll become part of a collective air force, created in the under the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), an intergovernmental military alliance of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Meanwhile, the US is planning to pull its flight operations from Manas and use an alternative airbase in Romania as a transit point for troops departing from Afghanistan.