BISHKEK (TCA) — Russia has not decided yet whether it needs another military base in Kyrgyzstan, President Sooronbai Jeenbekov said on March 6. Speaking to journalists for the first time since his election as president in October, Jeenbekov said, “The decision on the second military base is yet to be made by Russia,” RFE/RL reported.
“The issue about setting up an additional [military] base to secure our airspace was raised before I became president,” Jeenbekov said.
“It is up to Russia. No decision on the matter has been made at this point,” he said, adding that Moscow has reinforced its current military base in Kyrgyzstan’s northern town of Kant.
Jeenbekov’s predecessor, Almazbek Atambayev, said in June that he had proposed that Russia deploy military units in the southern Batken region bordering Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, instead of reinforcing Russia’s Kant air base, which was established in 2003.
In December, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said that there is no need for a second Russian base in the Central Asian country, adding that the Kant air base is enough to deal with possible threats in the region.
The Kant air base acts within the framework of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
In recent months, officials in Russia and Central Asian countries have warned of growing security threats in the region that mainly originate from war-torn Afghanistan.