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Russia strengthens its hand in Central Asia

VLADIMIR RADYUHIN

Russia has consolidated its strategic positions in Central Asia by extending the long-term lease on its military facilities in Kyrgyzstan and securing the shutdown of a United States base in the former Soviet republic.

In exchange, Russia agreed to write off nearly $500 million in Kyrgyzstan’s debt and pledged to uplift its near bankrupt economy.

Under an agreement signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Kyrgyzstan on Thursday, the lease of the Russian airbase in Kant and a number of other facilities has been extended from 2017 for a further 15 years with an option for a further five-year extension.

“Russian military presence in the region, both in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, is a significant factor in stability,” Mr. Putin said at a joint news conference with Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev.

A political declaration signed by the two sides reaffirmed Kyrgyzstan’s…

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