If Bakiev is indeed out of power, what is going to happen to Manas air base?
Today’s RIA reports that Russia threw weight behind provisional Kyrgyz government and sent 150 paratroopers into Kant military base. Earlier, Putin came out and criticized Bakiev for corruption and nepotism, suggesting that the president got what he asked for.
It seems quite clear that ever since Bakiev backtracked on his promise to Russia to shut down Manas air base, Russians have been holding a grudge against the president and fostering relations with the opposition.
The opposition seems to understand that in order to hold on to power they need support of Russia, the hegemon in the post-Soviet region. To demonstrate their loyalty, leaders of the opposition have been very critical of Americans for courting Bakiev and sending him a letter of praise, after he allowed them to retain the base.
Could it be that if the opposition remains in power, Americans are out of Manas? Or could it be, they will have to start negotiations all over again, this time having to court not only Kyrgyzstan but also Russia?
Reuters reports that Omurbek Tekebayev, who is in charge of “constitutional matters in the [provisional] government,” came out with a statement suggesting that “now there is a high probability that the duration of the U.S. air base’s presence in Kyrgyzstan will be shortened.”
WSJ reports that Russian delegation in Prague told reporters that Russia would push for the interim government to shut down Manas. Otunbayeva on the record saying “the status quo [on the base] remains in place… We won’t rush to decide on such issues.”
Reuters article is available here: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE63740R20100408
WSJ article is available here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052702304198004575171350635795616.html#mod=todays_us_page_one