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BISHKEK, February 28. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he will be prepared to close down the Kant base if Kyrgyzstan no longer needs Russian assistance.
"As soon as Kyrgyzstan says it has made its armed forces strong enough and does not need the base any more, we will take our leave the same day," Putin said after talks with Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambayev.
Putin said that the question of building up the Russian military contingent at the Kant base in Kyrgyzstan was not discussed with that country’s president.
"The question of expanding Russian military contingent (at the Kant base) was not discussed," he said. "If Kyrgyzstan deems it necessary, we will have a discussion."
"We see no need for deploying a military contingent here (in Kyrgyzstan)," Putin said, adding that the presence of the Russian military had only one reason behind it - the need for maintaining the security of Kyrgyzstan.
"Since we started expanding our relations within the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) it goes without saying that we will take care of strengthening the armed forces of Kyrgyzstan further on," Putin said, adding that he had discussed that theme with his Kyrgyz counterpart at Tuesday’s talks.
"We will be dealing with this within the group of experts at the CSTO level calmly and steadily," he said.
Putin added that Russia could not afford to keep military bases abroad.
"Please remember that this would spell extra costs for us," he said.