President Vladimir Putin will use tomorrow’s trip to Kyrgyzstan to extend the lease on a Russian military base in the country and settle the central Asian nation’s debt, according to Putin’s foreign-policy aide.
Russia also plans to settle Kyrgyzstan’s $488 million debt, said Ushakov, a former ambassador to the U.S. He declined to provide details describing the debt deal. Russia’s government has previously said it was prepared to consider “alternative” ways of debt repayment.
Landlocked Kyrgyzstan is the only country in the world that hosts both Russian and U.S. military bases. In 2009 it decided to evict the U.S. from its Manas air base after receiving a $2 billion aid package from Russia. Kyrgyzstan’s government reversed the decision later that year when the U.S. raised the rent to $60 million $17.4 million a year from to keep the facility, which it uses to supply troops in Afghanistan.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek in March and spoke with local officials about extending use of the air base after the current agreement expires in July 2014. Kyrgyzstan insists the facility should be turned into a civilian or commercial enterprise after 2014.