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Putin: NATO cargo transit through Ulyanovsk not contrary to our national interests
12.04.2012 14:31

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in his annual report on the activities of the government to the State Duma said, that base in Ulyanovsk for cargo transit of NATO forces is consistent with interests of Russia.

Putin recalled that NATO operates in Afghanistan under the mandate of the UN. "We are concerned that the situation to be under control. And we do not want our soldiers to fight on Tajik-Afghan border. We must help them solve the problem of stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan, otherwise we have to do it ourselves."

The prime minister said Ulyanovsk airport would be used for military cargo transits of the Western coalition, participating in military operations in Afghanistan. "Russia has already allowed transit to some individual NATO countries, what's the problem for NATO itself? We should be pragmatic to defining what is advantageous for us", - Putin said.

He also called NATO "a relic of the Cold War". "I consider NATO ... a relic of the Cold War. It was created at a time when there was a bipolar system of international relations," said Putin.

Earlier, Deputy Director of Press and Information of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova voiced Russia's position on NATO cargo transit. According to her, there are no plans that would envisage presence of either military or civilian personnel of the alliance in Ulyanovsk. "There is no suggestion for either military or civilian personnel of NATO countries to be based there. It is about exploring the feasibility of transit for only non-lethal cargo by the International Security Assistance Force to Afghanistan using combined methods — air, road and rail transport through the territory of the Russian Federation," she said.

She stressed that the messages on the establishment of NATO bases in Ulyanovsk does not correspond to reality. "Negotiations on this never took place, such a possibility was not discussed", said the representative of Ministry of Foreign Affairs

"There is nothing new or sensational in the fact that Russia is supporting the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in transit there. By the way, ISAF includes 22 non-NATO country," Zakharova recalled.

She pointed out that this form of cooperation were carried out in accordance with a corresponding UN Security Council resolution 1386, calling on States neighboring Afghanistan and UN member states provide assistance to ISAF, including providing overflight clearances and transit.

Putin and Zakharova statements indicate that the Russian leadership, considering the importance of promoting the stabilization in Afghanistan, has decided to give countries of ISAF the opportunity to transit non-military cargo through its territory.

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