Russia has opened a second military base in the former soviet republic of Kyrgystan.
It was a happy 60th birthday greeting for President Kurmanbek Bakiyevon as his Russian counterpart Dmitri Medvedev arrived to sign the deal.
The new agreement should see a permanent Russian foothold in the country for the next 49 years, with the possibility of a 25 year extension if needed.
Russia and the US already have bases in the impoverished mountainous central Asian country that both see as a key strategic outpost.
The Kremlin has been making strong overtures for the creation of an additional base to counterbalance Washington’s military presence.
Kyrgyzstan had initially said it would close the US Manas base but back tracked after the Pentagon paid about 130 million euros.
The US regards Manas as vital for supplying forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Russia opens new base in Kyrgystan