The decision to close an American air base in Kyrgyzstan was "final," the Kyrgyz government said today, contradicting claims from Washington that discussions are ongoing. The Manas Air Base is a vital stopover for US and NATO flights to Afghanistan, but this week Kyrgyzstan suddenly decided to shutter it. The decision was announced as Russia pledged billions in aid to Kyrgyzstan, though the government insists the two moves are unlinked, reports the BBC.
Meanwhile the Russian foreign minister said today that it would allow the US to transport "non-lethal" military supplies across its territory into Afghanistan. Tajikistan has also said that it will be open to transport, and the US is said to be close to a deal with Uzbekistan. The US is eager to maintain a route to Afghanistan that avoids the increasingly unstable Pakistan, while Russia wants to reduce American influence in the smaller former Soviet republics.