Russia Ready to Boost Cooperation With U.S. on Afghan Cargo Transit - February, 2009

Moscow is using more of its newly acquired geopolitical leverage. Due to the very sensitive nature of America's wars in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, gaining Russian support in Central Asia today will be of critical importance to Washington in the future.

Arevordi

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Russia Ready to Boost Cooperation With U.S. on Afghan Cargo Transit

February, 2009

Moscow has the potential to broaden cooperation with Washington on supplies of non-lethal cargo to the U.S. troops in Afghanistan via the so-called "northern corridor," a Kremlin official said on Tuesday. Due to worsening security on the main land route from Pakistan and the expected closure of a U.S. airbase in Kyrgyzstan, NATO has to rely on alternative routes to supply the U.S.-dominated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. "The logistics issue is crucial for the Americans, who continue to build up their military contingent in Afghanistan," Anatoly Safonov, special presidential envoy for international cooperation in the fight against terrorism and transnational crime, said at a news conference in Moscow.

There are 62,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, more than half of them from the United States, and President Barack Obama has pledged to deploy another 30,000 U.S. military personnel to the war-ravaged country. "We have recently said that our transit route is open and we are ready to search for possibilities of increasing its effectiveness," Safonov said, adding that Russia and the West had been coordinating the supply details and locations of transshipment bases. The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday that a consignment of U.S. non-military cargos was being prepared in the Latvian capital of Riga for transit to Afghanistan via Russia, and would soon be dispatched. Russia and NATO signed a framework agreement on the transit of non-military cargos in April 2008.

Despite the recent deterioration in relations with NATO, Russia has continued to support the military alliance's operations in Afghanistan, fearing the worsening security situation and the steadily growing opium production in the country. Several NATO nations, including France, Germany and Canada, already transport so-called non-lethal supplies to their contingents in Afghanistan via Russia under bilateral agreements. The "northern corridor" for U.S. transshipments through Russia would likely cross into Kazakhstan and then Uzbekistan before entering northern Afghanistan.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20090217/120185157.html

Train to Cross Russia With U.S. Cargo for Afghanistan Leaves Riga

A train carrying non-lethal supplies for the U.S. military in Afghanistan has left a cargo terminal at the Latvian port of Riga for transit through Russia, a source in the port administration said on Thursday. "The train has left the Riga port heading for transit to Afghanistan through Russian territory," the source said. The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday that a consignment of U.S. non-military cargos was being prepared in the Latvian capital of Riga for transit to Afghanistan via Russia, and would soon be dispatched. Russia and NATO signed a framework agreement on the transit of non-military cargos in April 2008, and a subsequent Russia-U.S. deal was signed in January. Due to worsening security on the main land route from Pakistan and the expected closure of a U.S. airbase in Kyrgyzstan, NATO has to rely on alternative routes to supply the U.S.-dominated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. There are over 60,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, more than half of them from the United States, and President Barack Obama has recently ordered another 17,000 U.S. soldiers to the war-ravaged country. Despite the recent deterioration in relations with NATO, Russia has continued to support the military alliance's operations in Afghanistan, fearing the worsening security situation and the steadily growing opium production in the country. Several NATO nations, including France, Germany and Canada, already transport so-called non-lethal supplies to their contingents in Afghanistan via Russia under bilateral agreements. The "northern corridor" for U.S. transshipments through Russia would likely cross into Kazakhstan and then Uzbekistan before entering northern Afghanistan. U.S. officials earlier said 20 to 30 trainloads a week could go from Latvia to Afghanistan if the route is a success.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/world/20090219/120221767.html

In related news:

Report: Moscow Freezes Sale of S-300 to Iran

Russia has frozen the sale of the state-of-the-art S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported Wednesday. Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar was reportedly informed of the decision by his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov on his visit to Moscow on Wednesday. Russia said the delivery of the systems would be delayed at least until the upcoming meeting between President Dmitry Medvedev and his US counterpart, Barack Obama. Kommersant cited Russia's wish to prevent hindering dialogue with the new US administration. Military diplomatic sources were quoted by Kommersant as saying that the issue had been the focus of Najjar's visit. Israel Radio quoted Moscow sources as saying that apart form the gesture to the Americans, Russia also wanted to avoid ruining a $100 million drone purchase from Israel. On Tuesday, Kommersant that Russia and Iran had already signed an $800 million deal for five of the S-300 systems, but Moscow had not yet decided whether to ratify the sale. The S-300 is one of the most advanced multi-target anti-aircraft missile systems in the world, and has a reported ability to track up to 100 targets simultaneously while engaging up to 12. If Iran were provided with the system, it would significantly complicate any Israeli or US strikes on Iranian nuclear installations. The S-300 system was first deployed by the USSR in 1979 and was designed to defend large industrial and administrative facilities and military bases, and to control airspace against enemy aircraft. It has a range of about 200 km. and can hit targets at altitudes of 27,000 meters. Iran already has Russian-made TOR-M1 surface-to-air missiles, but they have a shorter range than the S-300.

Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satelli...cle%2FShowFull

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