Kyrgyzstan on Saturday agreed to allow Russia to station more troops in the Central Asian country as Moscow seeks to increase its military influence in the region.
A memorandum signed by Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev said Kyrgyzstan had “approved a proposal by Russia to house an additional Russian military contigent in Kyrgyzstan”.
The memorandum, signed at the resort of Cholpon-Ata on Kyrgyzstan’s Lake Issyk Kul, said the size of the contingent could be up to a battalion.
The two sides also vowed to sign a formal agreement by November 1 on the formal status of Russian bases in Kyrgyzstan, the memorandum said.
Russia already has one base in Kyrgyzstan, the Kant airbase outside the capital Bishkek.
However it is also seeking a second base in the southern city of Osh that would house the newly proposed rapid reaction force of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), an ex-Soviet group dominated by Moscow.
Kyrgyzstan in June agreed to let US forces remain at the Manas airbase outside Bishkek, used to support operations in Afghanistan, effectively reversing a previous decision in a move seen by many as a blow for Moscow.
It is currently the only country in the world to house both Russian and US bases.