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
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