Kazakhstan and Russia have signed the documents returning more than 16 thousand sq. km of formerly leased land back to Kazakhstan.. The transferred land area is more then the size of Montenegro.
In particular, Russia will withdraw from the Sary-Shagan test site that it used for its 929th State Flight Test Centre located in Akhtubinsk. The Sary-Shagan test site was first conceived in 1956 as an isolated facility primarily aimed at testing USSR's antiballistic missiles. It is located to the northwest and west of Lake Balkhash in the Betpak-Dala desert in Karaganda and Zhambyl oblasts of Kazakhstan.
"We are signing today two protocols to the interstate agreements on the use of our test sites located on the territory of Kazakhstan, and two protocols to intergovernmental agreements on their lease," Sergei Shoigu, Russian Minister of Defence, said at the meeting with the Minister of Defence of Kazakhstan Imangali Tasmagambetov on April 16.
According to the Russian Defence Ministry, the land contains mineral reserves - oil and gas in particular. Moreover, the transferred land may be used for the construction of modern communications, for example, for Samara-Shymkent highway, which is a part of the international transport corridor Western Europe-Western China, Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoliy Antonov said.
“We took into account the interests of Kazakhstan when returning the land from lease,” Shoigu said.
According to the Russian Defence Minister, the new boundaries are "sufficient for testing of new arms and military equipment". Shoigu noted that the tests would serve to enhance the security of not only Russia, but also of Kazakhstan.
He added that the signed agreements contained revised lease costs for the use of the test sites.
Shoigu reminded that Russia and Kazakhstan were bound up by “fraternal, neighborly and friendly relations". "We have nothing to divide, but there is a lot we can create together,” he said.
Commenting on Russia's decision to hand over the unused lands to Kazakhstan, Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov said that the cut in land area leased from Kazakhstan as military training grounds would save more than four million dollars a year. "The total annual rent for the use of the landfills will be reduced by more than four million dollars a year - from 23,486,000 dollars to 19,357,000 dollars," Antonov said.
World media monitoring