Bishkek: Kyrgyzstan wants a substantial increase in rent from Moscow if it is to continue hosting a Russian military base on its territory, Kyrgyz Defence Minister Abibilla Kudayberdiyev said on Thursday.
Russia has four military installations in Kyrgyzstan, including the airbase at Kant outside Bishkek, which operates under the auspices of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation, a proposed counterweight to NATO.
"The Kyrgyz side is planning to increase the cost of rent two to three times in the new agreement. The lease on these four military installations... was signed in 1993," he said at a news conference in the capital Bishkek.
"Russia paid USD 4.5 million (EUR 3.5 million) for them. Because of that, this question needs to be resolved."
Kudayberdiyev, who made the comments after returning from discussions with his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov in Moscow, also addressed the possibility of Russia paying off its back debt for the bases with arms.
"Today, Russia owes USD 6 million (EUR 4.62 million) in debt for the lease," he said.
"At a meeting with... Serdyukov, we agreed that the Russian side would pay the debt in the near future by giving us weapons."
He stressed, however, that discussions were still ongoing and no agreement had been signed over either the base or the Russian debt.
Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished Central Asian state bordering China, has been wracked by political and ethnic violence this year. It is the only country in the world to host both Russian and US military bases.