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Do not count on Russia over Kyrgyz base, Rogozin tells US

Posted by Kris Roman on February 10, 2009

kyrgyzstan-map-bgRussia’s NATO envoy on Tuesday warned the United States against seeking Russian help to reverse a decision by Kyrgyzstan to close a US base serving as a key supply route to forces in Afghanistan.

Dmitry Rogozin’s comments came as a senior US diplomat arrived in Moscow for talks on supply routes to coalition forces in Afghanistan following Bishkek’s decision last week.

News of the decision by the Kyrgyz government to close the US base came as a shock to the United States and the Western military alliance.

But Rogozin, speaking via video link from Brussels, told reporters: “Seeking understanding from the Russian side here is a roundabout way. There is a direct way — this is Bishkek.

“If we are neo-imperialists, from your point of view, why are you then resorting to services of a neo-imperialist?” the flamboyant nationalist ex-lawmaker added. “We have nothing to do with it,” he insisted.

Washington has already indicated it is not ready to give up the base and the Kyrgyz parliament now appears to be stalling on a final decision.

A spokesman for the Kyrgyz parliament said on Tuesday it would examine the closure of the airbase no earlier than March as it waited for the outcome of discussions between the United States and Russia over its future.

US deputy assistant secretary of state Patrick Moon meanwhile arrived in Moscow for two days of talks with the Russian foreign ministry on possible new routes across Russia to Afghanistan, a US embassy spokesman said.

“Several weeks ago Russia gave its approval for the first shipments to begin,” said the embassy spokesman.

“We are currently working out final logistical details to commence with shipments,” he added.

Top Russian officials said last week Moscow had given a “positive answer” to a US request to facilitate transit to Afghanistan.

Rogozin however said Washington should not expect many concessions from Moscow on Afghanistan.

“We are doing just as much as we consider necessary to do,” he told reporters.

Separately, he praised the outcome of an international security conference in Munich over the weekend, saying Russia took notice of the new US administration’s pledge to “press the reset button” in bilateral relations.

“The ice in relations between Russia and the West — everybody can see that — is melting and melting at the initiative of the West,” he said.

However, Washington would have to work much harder if it wanted to see a genuine change in its ties with Moscow, he said, adding Russia was still disappointed at the Western criticism of Russia’s war with Georgia in August.

“We … can’t pretend that everything is over, everything has been forgotten. We will remember.”

On the bright side for Russia, Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili, who attended the Munich conference, was not invited to speak, Rogozin said.

“Denying Saakashvili the right to take the floor at the Munich conference — it seemed to me it was a request for forgiveness,” he said.


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