Foreign policy and defense
Kyrgyzstan strives for good relations with
both the old ruling power Russia and the new economic
giant China. With its strategic location in the middle
of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is important to the great
powers. From 2003 to 2014, the country was alone in the
world to house both a Russian and a US military base on
Kyrgyzstan was one of the smallest and poorest Soviet
republics, and completely dependent on the rest of the
Soviet Union. Following the dissolution of the Soviet
Union in 1991, ties to Russia weakened. However, the
entry of Islamist guerrilla groups into the country
after the turn of the millennium led to closer military
and security cooperation between Russia, China,
Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian countries under the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Kyrgyzstan for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
Kyrgyzstan was a member of the Eurasian Economic
Community (Eurasec), together with Belarus, Kazakhstan,
Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan until January 1, 2015,
when Eurasec dissolved. At the same time, another
regional cooperation organization, the Eurasian Economic
Union (EEU), formally entered into force between Russia,
Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia. Kyrgyzstan joined the
EEU in August 2015.
The terrorist attacks in the United States on
September 11, 2001 led to Kyrgyzstan also forging closer
security policy ties with the United States. Kyrgyzstan
joined the US-led Alliance on Terrorism, allowed US
soldiers at Manas Air Base outside Bishkek and opened
its airspace for US military flights fighting the
Taliban regime and the al-Qaeda terrorist network in
Afghanistan. It was balanced with the fact that Russia
was allowed to station combat aircraft and soldiers on
the Kant military base on the other side of Bishkek. In
2003, the Kant base became the first new Russian
military base in a former Soviet republic following the
dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Around the turn of the millennium, armed Islamists
from the Uzbek Islamic Movement (IMU) moved several
times into Kyrgyzstan via Tajikistan from bases in
Afghanistan (see Modern History). They raised concerns
in the Muslim Fergana Valley, where Kyrgyzstan borders
on Uzbekistan. Following a hostage frame in 1999,
Kyrgyzstan held a military exercise with Uzbekistan,
Tajikistan and Kazakhstan with the support of Russian
military advisers. The cooperation has since continued.
In the densely populated Fergana Valley live a number
of ethnic groups competing for land and water. The
lively border trade is made more difficult when drug
trafficking and armed groups are to be stopped. There
are also old and new border disputes. Kyrgyzstan claims
an Uzbek part of the Fergana Valley, and Uzbekistan and
Kyrgyzstan dispute the Osh area of Kyrgyzstan. There
is also conflict over the river water, which flows down
from the Kyrgyz mountains to the Uzbek plains.
Uzbekistan is dependent on the river water for its huge
After the 2005 massacre at Andizjan in the Uzbek part
of the Fergana Valley (see Uzbekistan, Modern History),
many Uzbeks fled to Kyrgyzstan, which sought to resist
the Uzbek regime's pressure for the country to return
the refugees. Uzbekistan's security service has been
active in Kyrgyzstan, and joint military operations have
been carried out at the border of the Fergana Valley.
Relations with Uzbekistan sealed significantly in
2017 following a presidential shift in the neighboring
country. Following President Mirzijojev's accession to
Uzbekistan 2016, significant progress was made in
attempts to resolve the Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan border
conflicts, and the value of trade between the two
neighbors almost doubled in 2018.
The border with Tajikistan is partially unmarked and
violent clashes occasionally erupt between livestock
keepers about access to land and water. Since 2018,
government-level work has been underway between the
countries to speed up the process of marking the border.
China and the Uighurs
With growing trade, aid and investment, China's
economic - and political - significance for Kyrgyzstan
has increased, which has worried both Russia and the
United States. Kyrgyzstan borders on the politically
troubled Chinese province of Xinjiang, where there are
Uighurs who want their own state or want their rights
respected. This makes the important relationship with
China sensitive. Tens of thousands of Uighurs live in
Kyrgyzstan, and according to the Beijing government,
Islamist separatists have made raids from Kyrgyz
territory bases into China, which has asked Kyrgyzstan
to fight this activity.
Turkey and the Central Asian countries of Kyrgyzstan,
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan
cooperate on a number of issues and the summits are held
regularly. Iran has tried to increase its influence in
Kyrgyzstan, but without much success. Saudi Arabia and
other Arab states support mosque construction and offer
loans to industry.
Kyrgyzstan, together with other former Soviet
republics, is part of the Commonwealth of Independent
States (CIS). Kyrgyzstan and several CIS countries have
a joint force against Islamic terrorism in Central Asia.
The force is located in Bishkek.
Kyrgyzstan participates in the OSCE and has joined
the NATO Partnership for Peace (PFP). The Kyrgyz support
behind the US war in Afghanistan from 2001 has been
rewarded with generous US assistance, but among the
Kyrgyz there is opposition to US influence in the
In 2009, Kyrgyzstan threatened to close the US base
Manas, but non-military transport was allowed to
continue for another five years after the rent was
sharply raised. At the same time, Russia was promised to
establish a second military base in exchange for loans
and assistance to Kyrgyzstan.
In June 2014, the US's use of Manas for transit
transports from Afghanistan ceased, and the
approximately 1,000 US soldiers left the base. At the
Kant base there are about 500 Russian soldiers.
Negotiations for a second Russian military base have
Kyrgyzstan's defense forces are small. The country
relies on Russian and Uzbek military support to prevent
guerrilla cross-border activity. Kyrgyzstan has also
signed a security agreement with China on border
surveillance. 18 months of general military service
FACTS - DEFENSE
8,500 men (2017)
The air Force
2 400 men (2017)
Military expenditure's share of GDP
3.2 percent (2017)
Military spending's share of the state budget
7.8 percent (2017)
Resignation claim after politician murder
A number of politicians with alleged ties to organized crime are murdered,
triggering demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Bakijev and
Prime Minister Kulov.
Kulov becomes new head of government
President Bakijev appoints Felix Kulov as new prime minister.
Bakijev becomes regular president
Acting President Kurmanbek Bakijev is elected as Head of State. According to
Western observers, the choice is largely free and fair.
President Akaiev resigns
From the exile in Moscow, President Akajev reluctantly submits his
resignation application. Thus, the so-called tulip revolution has been
Bakijev becomes new interim president
Kurmanbek Bakijev, leader of the Kyrgyz People's Movement,
is appointed prime minister and acting president of a temporary government.
Felix Kulov, leader of the Kyrgyz People's Congress, is
released from prison (see Modern History) and given responsibility for police
and security matters. Roza Otunbajeva becomes Foreign Minister.
President Akaiev flies after protests
The second round is held. The Election Commission announces that the
opposition gets 5 out of 75 seats. The election results trigger demonstrations
in southern Kyrgyzstan, where Akajev is unpopular. When the protests spread to
the president's home region in the north, he is forced to flee to Russia. The
Supreme Court annuls the election because of widespread cheating.
Parliamentary elections are criticized for cheating
The first round of the parliamentary elections is held. Several opposition
politicians are prevented from running for office. The opposition accuses the
Akajev regime of electoral fraud, which is confirmed by European election
observers. A wave of demonstrations is being carried out against President Askar
Akajev and his regime.