On February 20, the United States ambassador to Kyrgyzstan received an eviction notice demanding Washington close its military air base in the country and depart the country within 6 months.

The Manas base, created shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, at first served as a symbol of what seemed like a budding strategic partnership between the U.S. and Russia.

But as relations between the two countries soured in recent years, the base came to represent the renewed competition between the two former Cold War rivals.

A spokesperson for the U.S. base, Maj. Damien Pickart, said he expected military officials to begin preparations for leaving, the Associated Press reported.

If they tell us that our time is up — which they've done today — then we'll start the necessary preparations to move operations, he added. I don't know if it will take the full six months, he said, the AP reported.

In recent months Pakistani militants have increased the number of attacks on convoys traveling the primary supply route to Afghanistan which has forced U.S. to seek secure alternatives in routes through central Asia.

Manas has served as a vital transit point for 15,000 U.S. troops and 500 tons of cargo each month.

The announcement for U.S. to exit Manas was first made by Kyrgyzstan's president shortly after Moscow promised $2.1 billion in loans and aid to the tiny, impoverished Central Asian country.

Russia insists that it did not influence the decision.

The U.S. believes brokering a deal with Kyrgyzstan to keep Manas remains a possibility. It continues to however seek alternative routes for men and material for men and materiel moving to and from the mountains of Afghanistan.

I continue to believe this is not a closed issue, and that there remains the potential to reopen this issue, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday, the Associated Press reported. But we are developing alternative methods of getting resupply and people into Afghanistan.

The U.S. is currently considering Uzbekistan as a possible alternative.

Earlier this week the commander of U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, traveled to the Uzbek capital, Tashkent.

No further details regarding this visit are available.