In a development that could influence Kyrgyzstan’s willingness to prolong the lease of the Manas Transit Center outside Bishkek, a US Embassy official has confirmed that a joint Kyrgyz-Russian venture is now delivering the majority of fuel consumed at the base.
Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev has indicated on several occasions recently that the Manas facility, a key American-run logistics base for military operations in Afghanistan, might be closed after the planned withdrawal of US and NATO forces in 2014. US strategic planners have yet to make a determination on whether Manas will indeed be needed beyond 2014, provided the withdrawal goes according to plan. But if there is a need, the fact that the joint venture, called Gazpromneft-Aero Kyrgyzstan (GAK), has taken over the lion’s share of fuel deliveries would seem to provide an incentive for Atambayev’s administration to prolong the lease.
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Deirdre Tynan is a Bishkek-based reporter specializing in Central Asian affairs.