Kyrgyzstan is considering nationalizing a controversial foreign-controlled gold mine that has been at the heart of destabilizing political tensions, the country’s president has told the BBC in an interview.
Vladimir Putin is getting most of what he wants out Kyrgyzstan, including a lease extension on a Russian airbase and part ownership of a torpedo plant, while America's star there is on the wane.
Kyrgyzstan has officially applied to become the next member of the Russia-led Customs Union, an institution designed to entrench Russia's economic and political influence in its former Soviet territory. Although joining the union will harm the Kyrgyz economy in many respects, not joining could motivate Russia to use any of the several levers it has in Kyrgyzstan. Other Central Asian countries are watching Kyrgyzstan carefully, as its membership in the Customs Union likely will lead to their eventual membership.
Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev confused Russian military facilities when he demanded that Russia pay off a $15-million debt for leasing an air base in the former Soviet republic, Kommersant daily reported on Thursday.
Although the newly-elected Kyrgyz President, Almazbek Atambayev, received significant Kremlin support in the run up to last year’s elections, Turkey was his first formal destination as the head of state. During a meeting with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Atambayev invited Turkey, along with Russia and “other states,” to participate in restructuring the US Transit Center at Manas after US and NATO troops leave in 2014.
The departing president of Kyrgyzstan, the small but strategically important Central Asian country that houses a vital American air base for supplying the NATO war effort in neighboring Afghanistan, expressed deep concern on Wednesday about the potential for a contagious economic collapse in Afghanistan when foreign military forces withdraw.
Kyrgyzstan’s new president-elect Almazbek Atambayev has once again hinted that he wants the US Transit Center at Manas out of Kyrgyzstan by the time coalition forces leave Afghanistan. “In 2014 the United States will have to withdraw its military base from the ‘Manas’ international airport,” Atambayev said on November 1.
The situation in Kyrgyzstan generated an emotive exchange between Kazakh and Uzbek officials during the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Astana, on December 1-2, highlighting continuing disagreements between neighbors.
Political parties backed by Russia are poised to take power in Kyrgyzstan, threatening closure for a strategic U.S. airbase for the war in Afghanistan.