Bishkek got "suspended" between Russia and the US


It seems that the question about the legality of the US air base Manas on the territory of Kyrgyzstan is answered in favor of the Pentagon. This verdict was issued recently by the Bishkek inter-district court after it heard a lawsuit submitted to the court by a citizen of Kyrgyzstan, Igor Trofimov, head of the fund named after Sergi Radonezhsky and Manas the Gracious. The human rights activist of Slavic origin says that the agreement on the presence of the US base on the territory of the country should be denounced “because of the damage incurred by servicemen of the air base. Among examples of this are dropping 400 tons of jet fuel by US airplanes on the heads of residents of the Chuiskaya Region of Kyrgyzstan, the murder of citizen of Kyrgyzstan, Alexander Ivanov, by US air force officer, Zachary Hatfield, who fled from Kyrgyz justice and the collision of airplanes in Manas airport as a result of which the only presidential airplane was put out of order.”

The withdrawal of the American base was discussed in Kyrgyzstan for a long time. The parliament of Kyrgyzstan proposed this to the president and Kurmanbek Bakiev promised to make a decision. However, Kyrgyz authorities have apparently decided to back off.

The base of the coalition forces of the US and NATO was arranged in the airport of Bishkek in 2001. Its backbone consists of servicemen and hardware of the US air force that provide support to the operation on the territory of Afghanistan. There are several military transport airplanes and aerial tankers and a few hundred servicemen at the base now. The US rents the air base for $150 million a year. This circumstance is evidently the main obstacle for closing of this base by Bishkek in a way similar to that of neighboring Uzbekistan in 2005.

Hence, professor of the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University, Alexander Knyazev, states that “the authorities of Kyrgyzstan are balancing between the US and Russia.”

Knyazev continues, “This is an attempt to sit on two chairs. On the one hand, Kyrgyzstan participates in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). On the other hand, Kyrgyz authorities are in no hurry to dismantle the American military base in the Manas airport of Bishkek.”

Meanwhile, Russian authorities grew concerned about the situation related to the base as well. Zamir Kabulov, Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan, believes that Manas airport in Kyrgyzstan may become a transit base for the delivery of drugs from Afghanistan to the CIS and Europe. According to Kabulov, according to unchecked information, the military transport aviation of the US is allegedly used for the transportation of drugs inside of Afghanistan and abroad, possibly to air bases Manas in Kyrgyzstan and Incirlik in Turkey.

Kabulov says, “If there are such actions they cannot take place without contact with Afghans, and if one Afghan person knows about this at least a half of Afghanistan will know about this sooner or later. That is why I admit that this scenario is possible, but cannot prove it.” One way or the other, due to a strange coincidence, the American military presence in Afghanistan coincides with the beginning of growth in the production volume of Afghan raw opium that may become a reason for the destabilization of the situation in Asia, Europe and Russia in the near future, says the Russian diplomat.

So far, Russian authorities have a reserved attitude to the American military presence but it is clear that they do not welcome this presence. Nevertheless, they refrain from taking decisive steps in this direction. In circumstances when the US and European countries want to increase their influence on Central Asia and to diversify the hydrocarbon flow from this region, the stance of Russia should evidently be more predictable and efficient in defending its interests, moreover so in defending of interests on the territories of allied countries in the CSTO and SCO.