Kyrgyzstan vowed Tuesday it would order the closure of a US airbase on its soil whose presence has irritated Moscow, on the same day it received a generous Russian financial aid package.Perhaps we really should be "hopeful" about continuing "our good relationship with the Kyrgyz government", after all, we are now living in the new era of 'hope', aren't we?
Coinciding with the announcement by Bakiyev, Russia agreed to a financial aid package settling an estimated 180-million-dollar debt owed by cash-strapped Kyrgyzstan to Moscow. Russia also agreed to extend an interest free grant worth 150 million dollars to Kyrgyzstan as well as a loan worth two billion dollars, Russian news agencies reported.
The Kommersant newspaper said Russia "has laid down a strict condition: the provision of Russian financial help should lead to an official announcement by Kyrgyzstan on renouncing its obligations on the presence of the US airbase." ...
However, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said in Washington, "We are hopeful that we can continue our good relationship with the Kyrgyz government, and can continue to use Manas in support of our operations in Afghanistan. It is a hugely important air base for us."
Then again, we're also living in the new era of 'change' - Unfortunately, things may be changing sooner than any of us had expected.
Nevertheless, Mr. Morrell's boss, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, probably isn't too concerned with Russia's latest ploy. After all [as I noted last week], Gates seems to think that Russia's military maneuvers in Latin America is one big joke, so I suppose he would feel the same way about this latest maneuver:
Gates shrugged off Russian naval tours in places like Venezuela. He said that if Russia hadn't raised alarms by invading Georgia last year, he would have invited Russian ships to dock in Miami as well. He said the Russian sailors would have had more fun there than in Caracas.I also noted last week how Mr. Gates casually glossed over Russia's recent arms sales to Venezuela:
During a June trip to Russia, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez signed a deal with the Kremlin for the purchase of five diesel-fueled submarines. The deal came one year after the purchase by Caracas of more than US$3 billion worth of military equipment from Russia.One big joke, indeed.....
Meanwhile, the Weekly Standard opines:
"Let's hope Obama can take time out from his busy schedule of tossing his nominees under the bus to fulfill his duties as commander in chief of American forces."
Yes, indeed, "let's hope" - for more 'hope', and for more 'change'.