MOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin says Russia will close its military base in Kyrgyzstan if the government of the Central Asian nation asks it to.
Putin was speaking on Tuesday in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, as part of a Central Asian tour. The Kyrgyz president said in December that the base should close when the lease runs out at the end of this year.
Putin said on Tuesday at a joint press conference with his Kyrgyz counterpart that the only reason for stationing Russian troops there is "ensuring security in Kyrgyzstan itself." He said the Russian military "will leave on the same day" that Kyrgyzstan requests it.
Kyrgyzstan borders China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The U.S. operated an air base there chiefly for its military operations in Afghanistan until it was handed to the Kyrgyz military in 2014 at Kyrgyzstan's request.