Russia mulls handing over to Kyrgyzstan several S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems

Russia is considering the possibility of transferring to the Kyrgyz armed forces several S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems, Igor Kurbatov, head of the Kyrgyz Defence Ministry's air defence department, told a news conference in Bishkek on Wednesday.

According to him, the Russian side already this month has supplied, as assistance to maintain combat readiness of the republic's air defence units and subunits, spare parts and equipment for radar systems to a total of about 4.1 million roubles (around 130,000 dollars).

Kurbatov said that before the end of this year Rosoboronexport intends to dispatch to Kyrgyzstan a new shipment of military technical stores for anti-aircraft missile systems worth another 3.5 million roubles.

Vladimir Varfolomeyev, military attache of Russia's embassy in Kyrgyzstan, confirmed Kurbatov's words, noting that "Russia is interested in maintaining the technical and combat preparedness of the Kyrgyz army for the purpose of protecting the commonwealth's southern boundaries".

"Central Asia has traditionally been the Russian state's sphere of interest." Varfolomeyev stressed. "Now, with other countries extending their strategic interests to this area, Russia wants to maintain a balance of interests. And intends to take definite measures for this aim".

According to Russia's military attache, top priority in defence cooperation between the two countries must become Russia's participation in "reanimating Kyrgyzstan's military-industrial complex".

"Another reason why this orientation is far more promising than deliveries of once-off supplies of aid, even in large amounts, is that revival of Kyrgyzstan's own military-industrial complex makes it less dependent on other countries," he said.

Varfolomeyev also replied to a RIA Novosti question about the Russian side's attitude to the presence in Kyrgyzstan of an air base of anti-terrorist coalition countries.

"We proceed from the fact that Kyrgyzstan's president and government have repeatedly stated that this presence is temporary. It is obvious that the grouping will still be there, because the tasks set before it are not yet accomplished to the end," the Russian military attache indicated.

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