MOSCOW, December 16 (RIA Novosti) – Russia will begin arms shipments to Kyrgyzstan in the near future as part of a $1 billion deal signed last year to modernize the Central Asian country’s military, Kyrgyzstan’s president said at a news conference Monday.
“After reaching a historic agreement with Russia to reorganize our armed forces, all of the paperwork has been completed and we will soon receive deliveries of artillery pieces, tanks, shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles and other military equipment,” Almazbek Atambayev said.
He said the newly modernized army will be ready to defend the country by 2017.
The two former Soviet nations signed a 15-year agreement in September 2012 on maintaining Russian bases in the Central Asian country. Kyrgyzstan will be forgiven $500 million in debt as part of that agreement.
Last month Kyrgyzstan officially notified the United States that American access to Kyrgyzstan’s Manas airbase will be suspended next summer. The airport has been a major transit point of troops and equipment for the war in Afghanistan since 2001. The US expects to end combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of next year.