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Withdrawal of US troops from airbase Manas in Kyrgyzstan forced step for U.S.

October 21, 2013, 20:30 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, October 21 (Itar-Tass) - The United States began relocating the U.S. Transit Centre from the Kyrgyz airbase Manas, which is situated near the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, Central Asia, and is used for the support to an operation in Afghanistan, to Romania at the end of the previous week. The U.S. Department of Defense plans to complete the transfer of these grounds and facilities located on them to the Kyrgyz government by July 2014, the Pentagon press service reported on Monday. The U.S. respects the Kyrgyz government’s decision to terminate the deployment of the U.S. Transit Centre after more than 12 years of operation, the Pentagon said in the statement.

The then Kyrgyz president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, intended to close the U.S. airbase at Manas back in 2009. Finally, Kyrgyzstan and the U.S. agreed on a higher rental fee and reached a new agreement, under which the airbase was restructured in the Transit Centre. Incumbent Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev has taken the final decision to close the airbase.

The U.S. Transit Centre will be deployed at the airbase named after Mihail Kogalniceanu in the Romanian city of Constanta. The U.S.-Romanian agreement of 2005 empowers the U.S. to use this airbase and several other military bases in Romania to store and transfer the equipment and to train the servicemen.

“The launched withdrawal of the U.S. forces from the Kyrgyz airbase Manas resulted from the situation in the world. The home situation in the U.S. cannot be named optimistic. America is living through a systemic crisis in economy, social sphere and foreign policy. The U.S. has stuck in Afghanistan for a long time and the Greater Middle East. Several unsettled problems require from the U.S. to change the country’s policy, particularly that related to the redeployment of the U.S. forces abroad,” former first deputy chief of the General Staff of the Russian Defence Ministry, retired Colonel General Valery Manilov told Itar-Tass.

The withdrawal of the U.S. Transit Centre from Manas “is not the withdrawal forever. America leaves the door half opened, as if saying “I will be back!” that is confirmed by the Pentagon statement that the U.S. intends to continue supporting democratic and economic development in Kyrgyzstan on the basis of further broadening of bilateral relations in years to come,” Valery Manilov noted.

The U.S. will not abandon country’s influence on Kyrgyzstan, Director General of the analytical centre Strategy “East-West” Dmitry Orlov noted. “The problem of some media outlets that they present all this uproar over the U.S. presence at the airport Manas as if after the withdrawal of the airbase Kyrgyzstan severs all relations with the U.S. But this is far from being true. Too many structures in Kyrgyzstan are subject to direct or indirect U.S. influence. Kyrgyz political elites cannot give up the friendship with the U.S. for nothing,” he told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily.

In reply to Itar-Tass correspondent’s question whether the withdrawal of the U.S. Transit Centre from Kyrgyzstan is profitable for Russia, Colonel General Valery Manilov said, “Linear measurements are unacceptable in this issue. But if the U.S. influence in Central Asia will be gradually shrinking as the magic skin (the magic skin (a novel by French novelist and playwright Honore de Balzac) represents the owner's life-force, which is depleted through every expression of will, especially when it is employed for the acquisition of power - Itar-Tass eds) that is creating prerequisites for Russia to restore country’s positions in the region with due account of Russian national interests in the sphere of security.”

“The participation of all republics of the former Soviet Union in Central Asia and now independent CIS states in this region in such security structures as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Collective Security Treaty Organization meet the interests of these countries. The Central Asian states are guaranteed national equity, independence and getting rid of the influence of the Big Brother on behalf of the U.S. only within the participation in these organizations,” the military expert commented on the withdrawal of the U.S. military forces from Kyrgyzstan.

Russia is interested in preserving the full sovereignty of its CIS partners, expert for international affairs, member of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, Doctor of Historical Sciences Yevgeny Kozhokin told Itar-Tass. “From this point of view, the withdrawal of the Transit Centre from the largest Kyrgyz airport is a tactical win for Russia,” the expert noted.

Yevgeny Kozhokin finds the decision to withdraw the U.S. military contingent from Magas as the forced measure , “This is the hardest question for the Administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, for all U.S. official structures from the State Department to the Pentagon, the positions of which do not coincide on Afghanistan. Finally, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says that the withdrawal of the U.S. troops from Afghanistan is needed.”

Meanwhile, Kozhokin noted, “In terms of national interests Russia is not interested in a U.S. defeat in Afghanistan anyway, because Taliban’s comeback to power in Afghanistan would pose a threat of stronger extremism in the whole region.”

“The problem of Afghanistan is a pressing issue of international politics, this problem got back to the background over a highly volatile situation in Syria, but the importance to settle the situation in Afghanistan is even larger than the elimination of the Syrian threat,” Yevgeny Kozhokin added.