Russia Plans Increased Presence at Kyrgyz Base

Days after the United States announced that it would complete its pullout from the Transit Center at Manas, Krygyzstan, by July 2014, when its lease expires, Russia disclosed its plans to expand its military presence at Kant Air Base in the Central Asian nation. The Russians will double the number of combat airplanes based at Kant by December, with expansion of personnel to follow, reported Eurasianet’s Bug Pit blog on Oct. 28. This announcement came on the occasion of Russia celebrating its 10th year at Kant, according to the blog. The air base is located outside of Bishkek, the Krygyz capital. Kant currently hosts between five and 10 Su-25 fighters, several helicopters, and about a dozen transport and training aircraft, along with a contingent of some 250 officers and 150 soldiers, stated various press reports (see, for example, Russia Today report). After 2014, the Russians said Kant would serve as a hub for a collective air force effort under the Collective Security Treaty Organization, an alliance of former Soviet states in Central Asia. Russia signed an agreement with the Kyrgyz government in September allowing Russian forces to remain at Kant until 2032, stated the press reports.