A traditional Russian ally has moved closer into Moscow’s orbit, in a move with implications for the West’s war on the Taliban.
Russia has offered big financial support to ex- Soviet Kyrgyzstan – 1.5 billion euros in credit and 116 million euros in aid. And, all the signs are that the Kremlin has secured military favours in return. Kyrgyzstan has begun moves to close an American military base on its soil, close to the capital Bishkek. Set up in 2001, it is vital for supplying US-led troops fighting in Afghanistan. Russia, which also operates an air base in Kyrgyzstan, has viewed the US presence as an attempt to challenge Moscow’s influence in the region. US officials say that while the American base is important, any decision to close it would not halt military operations in Afghanistan.