MOSCOW, April 19 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, ratified agreements with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan on Friday extending the presence of Russian military bases in those countries.
Both bases are seen by Moscow as a bulwark against the threat of Islamist militancy and drug-trafficking in Central Asia.
Moscow and Dushanbe clinched an agreement in October last year to extend the lease of the Russian Army's 201st Division's base in Tajikistan until at least 2042, with possible five-year extensions afterwards.
The base was officially opened in 2004 under a previous agreement, which was signed in 1993, and hosts Russia’s largest military contingent deployed abroad.
A total of 7,000 Russian troops are stationed at three military facilities collectively known as the 201st military base - in Dushanbe, the southwestern city of Qurgonteppa some 100 km (60 miles) from Dushanbe, and Kulob, about 200 km (120 miles) southwest of the capital.
The agreement with Kyrgyzstan, signed in September last year, grants Russia military facilities there until at least 2032, with possible five-year extensions afterwards.
Kyrgyzstan hosts a Russian airbase in Kant, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside the capital, Bishkek, a naval communications center in the village of Chaldovar in the Chui region, a naval testing site near the city of Karakol, 380 km (240 miles) from Bishkek, and a radioseismic laboratory in Mailuu-Sai, which is part of the unified automated system designed to detect the testing and use of nuclear weapons around the world, as well as earthquakes.
The Kant airbase serves the interests of the Collective Security Treaty Organization - a regional security body.
The base was established in October 2003, and currently hosts about 700 servicemen, as well as several Su-25 Frogfoot attack aircraft and Su-27 Flanker fighters, two Mi-8 combat transport helicopters, and four L-39 combat trainers.