The United States and Russia are working on a groundbreaking deal that would make Moscow the chief fuel supplier to the US-operated Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan. Under the arrangement, Russia would become a “third partner” at Manas, a key logistics hub for US and NATO military operations in Afghanistan.
The proposal is currently “under active consideration” by both sides and could be announced as a done deal at a White House meeting between US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on June 24, a Washington, DC, insider told EurasiaNet.org on June 20.
The arrangement has the support of the Kyrgyz provisional government because it would “cut out all the middle men,” the source added. Crucially, it would also allow Moscow to monitor the final destination of fuel, thereby ensuring that supplies obtained for Manas operations would not be re-exported to third countries. Provisional leaders in Bishkek believe Russia imposed punitive fuel-import duties on Kyrgyzstan in early April in retaliation for the perceived re-export of Russian fuel bound for Manas. [For background see the EurasiaNet’s archive].
Edil Baisalov -- the former chief of staff to provisional president Roza Otunbayeva, and the current leader of the Aikol El Party -- said a fuel-supply agreement between the United States and Russia would benefit Kyrgyzstan because it would allow the Kremlin to track deliveries made to the transit center. Russian leaders, then, might decide to revoke the punitive fuel-import duty. “It’s in the interests of the people of Kyrgyzstan and in the interests of United States to bring in the Russians as a third partner in the operation of the transit center,” Baisalov said.
“They [Russian officials] should be recognized, as they are already the de facto suppliers of kerosene to the Transit center,” he claimed.
Both Red Star Enterprises and Mina Corp, the previous and current suppliers of jet fuel to Manas, are at the center of a US congressional probe into contracting practices at the facility [For background see EurasiaNet’s archive].The alleged re-exporting of fuel, including to US military facilities in Afghanistan, is one aspect of the congressional investigation. Mina Corp has previously denied any knowledge of the alleged re-export of fuel from Kyrgyzstan.