Russia Considering Allowing NATO a Transit Hub

Russia’s legislature will consider a proposal to allow US and allied airlifters use of a Russian air base to ferry supplies to Afghanistan, according to Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. “We want those who are fending off threats directed at Russia to efficiently fulfill their tasks,” stated Lavrov, reported the Associated Press. “We are helping the coalition to proceed from our own interests,” he added, noting that Russia may allow NATO to access the airfield near Ulyanovsk, but not station troops there. Since Pakistan barred NATO from using the over-land supply route from the port of Karachi last November, NATO relies heavily on air and rail corridors permitted through Russia. “Clearly we welcome the cooperation we have with Russia already on transit to and from Afghanistan,” said NATO spokeswoman Oana Lugescu last week. She said NATO looks forward “to reinforcing that agreement” with a transit hub because “clearly stability in Afghanistan is in both our interests.” (Lugescu briefing transcript)