Russia on Wednesday said it could not rule out that the United States would use the U.S. Manas airbase in ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan for an eventual strike on Iran over its contested nuclear program.
“It cannot be excluded that this site could be used in a potential conflict with Iran,” foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters. “We hope that such an apocalyptic scenario will not be realised.”
Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev in December said it was “very dangerous” for the state to host the U.S. Manas military airbase and has threatened the Americans with eviction when the current lease expires in 2014.
The U.S. base, which is located at the airport in the capital Bishkek, is currently used as a key coalition hub for operations in nearby Afghanistan.
Lukashevich said using the airbase as a launch-pad to strike Iran would require “changes or rather violations” to the lease agreement between Washington and Bishkek.
“The statements from Washington which do not rule out a military solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis have caused serious worries in the Central Asian region,” he said.
“The worries are shared not just by Kyrgyzstan -- where a debate has erupted about the risk of a retaliatory strike from Iran -- but other Central Asian countries,” he added.
The United States and its chief regional ally Israel have never ruled out a military strike against Iran over its controversial nuclear program but Russia has always insisted the standoff can only be solved through diplomacy.
Russia also has a military base in Kyrgyzstan and has long vied with Washington for influence in the country as Moscow seeks to preserve its ascendancy in the ex-Soviet region.