26 June 2013, 18:39

US to lose access to key military base after Russian ally cancels lease

польская военная база Моронг американские ракеты противовоздушная оборона ПРО Patriot Патриот США

The United States will lose access to a vital military logistics hub in Central Asia in 2014 following the Kyrgyz president's decision Wednesday to cancel a lease agreement for a military base.

President Almazbek Atambayev signed a law Wednesday that repudiates a 2009 lease agreement, with effect from July 2014, the president's website said in a statement.

The Kyrgyz parliament approved the law last week.

Officially dubbed "Transit Centre," the Manas air base has served as a supply hub for US troops in Afghanistan since 2001.

It has been the subject of much political bargaining between Washington and the Kyrgyz government in Bishkek.

In 2009, the US signed on to a new agreement under significantly higher lease payments of 60 million dollars annually.

That agreement expires in 2014 anyway, but the renunciation law prevents it from being renewed.

Washington has said that it wishes to continue using the base after 2014, when the majority of NATO troops leave Afghanistan.

Experts have linked the cancellation with pressure from Russia, which also has a military base in Kyrgyzstan.

The move is likely to please Russia as it vies with the West and China for influence in the resource-rich region, once part of Soviet Central Asia.

The Manas Transit Center outside the capital Bishkek, which numbers about 1,000 U.S. servicemen, has been in operation since the end of 2001. The Kyrgyz government said in a note issued prior to a vote in parliament: "Further functioning of this facility is unnecessary".

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, elected in 2011, has staked heavily on closer ties with Russia and repeatedly assured Moscow that the U.S. air base would be shut in 2014.

Ending its agreement on Manas with the United States, Kyrgyzstan will lose annually $60 million paid by Washington for the lease, and maybe more significant sums in indirect revenues from the base.

Kyrgyzstan is part of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (ODKB) of several post-Soviet states, which is led by Moscow. It is also a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation dominated by Russia and China.

Voice of Russia, Reuters

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