Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev confused Russian military facilities when he demanded that Russia pay off a $15-million debt for leasing an air base in the former Soviet republic, Kommersant daily reported on Thursday.
Atambayev told Kommersant earlier there was "no need" for the base at Kant. He accused Russia of walking out on its obligations and said the base did nothing but flatter the "vanity of Russian generals."
But officials at the Russian Defense Ministry said Atambayev might not have read the lease deal where it states Russian troops were to be deployed at Kant free of charge.
They admitted, however, that Russia did owe outstanding rent on three other facilities in the impoverished Central Asian state. Russia has also neglected its obligations under a 1993 contract whereby it was to train Kyrgyz military and provide it with arms in return for the lease.
"In 2008-2009, we did not supply weapons and military hardware to Kyrgyzstan because of the escalating domestic situation there," an unnamed Defense Ministry official told Kommersant.
The Kyrgyz government said, however, that it was still unhappy over the Kant base, where Russia had also not abided by its obligations.
But senior Kyrgyz lawmaker Tokon Mymytov said on Thurdsay President Atambayev had "never raised the question of withdrawing Russian bases from the republic."