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Russia to add troops, aircraft at base in Kyrgyzstan
www.chinaview.cn 2006-02-16 10:03:25

    ALMA ATA, Feb. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- A senior Russian military official said Wednesday that Russia would deploy more troops and aircraft at the Kant air base in Kyrgyzstan, according to media reports from Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital.

    Russian Air Force Commander Gen. Vladimir Mikhailov told the press upon his arrival at the base that the number of officers there would be increased from the current 135 to 260 and that the number of aircraft would be nearly tripled within the year.

    Russia will also boost funding for expanding the infrastructure and improving housing facilities at the base, which will stay in Kyrgyzstan for a long time, Mikhailov said.

    While in Kyrgyzstan, Mikhailov will consult with leaders of the Kyrgyz military on the expansion of Kant air base, the reports said.

    The base, located in the suburbs of Bishkek, was commissioned in October 2003. There are now 500 Russian troops and a number of Su-25, Su-27 fighter jets, military cargo planes, and helicopters.

    Just a few kilometers away is the Manas airport, which hosts the Gansi air base of the United States.

    Gansi is a staging post for U.S. operations in nearby Afghanistan, but its role has expanded since a U.S. base in neighboring Uzbekistan was shut down last year.

    In a related development, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said Wednesday that Bishkek wants Washington to pay more than 100 times what it does at present for use of the air base.

    "According to our new calculations, they should pay 207 million dollars," Bakiyev said in an interview published by Russia's Kommersant daily.

    The current rent paid by the U.S. "represents a little over two million dollars," Bakiyev said. Enditem

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