News

Russia May Allow NATO to Move Troops, Cargo to Afghanistan Through Airport on Volga

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo)
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo)
James Brooke

For the last three years, Moscow has allowed NATO to ship military supplies to Afghanistan through Russia by rail. Now, this Northern Distribution Network may use an airport in Russia.

Russia’s foreign minister says the Kremlin is preparing to allow NATO to use an airport in central Russia as a transit center for soldiers and military cargo going to and from Afghanistan.

Under this plan, military aircraft would take off from Kabul, and fly almost 3,000 kilometers over Central Asia, to Ulyanovsk, a city on the banks of the Volga River.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russia’s Duma Wednesday that use of the airport would meet Russian interests by allowing NATO to make an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan by its December 2014 deadline.

The announcement comes a day after authorities in Kyrgyzstan told visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that they would not extend the American lease on a local transit center beyond its expiration date in July 2014. Manas Transit Center, near Bishkek, has become the main point of entry and exit for NATO troops from Afghanistan.

Joshua Kucera, a Washington-based writer on Central Asia security affairs, says the Kyrgyz position may simply signal the start of rent talks by Kyrgyzstan’s new president, Almazbek Atambayev.

"Most people in Bishkek and Washington assume that is a bargaining tool, that he will accept a U.S. presence for something longer than that, as long as the U.S. is willing to pay for it," said Kucera.

Kucera says Ulyanovsk would be a back-up to Manas, and Manas is a back-up to Pakistan.
Last November, Pakistan closed a southern supply route to Afghanistan in protest against NATO air attacks on two Pakistani military border posts.

For Russia, the NATO deal comes after three months of anti-American rhetoric as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin assailed the U.S. in a bid to win domestic support for his ultimately successful bid to win the March 4 presidential elections.

Now, with the election over, Russian officials seems to be tamping down anti-Americanism. Kucera says now officials have to confront:

"The Russian political domestic angle - it seems people are pretty riled up by this," he said.
On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin wrote on his Facebook page, "Stop panicking."

Rogozin, who was once Russia’s envoy to NATO, added, "I’m sick of reading about a U.S. base near Ulyanovsk."

He said Ulyanovsk will be a transit center, where nonlethal cargo will be shipped between cargo planes and railroad cars. He wrote, "I don’t think transit of NATO toilet paper through Russia constitutes betrayal of the Motherland."

Rogozin and other officials are saying the transit base will give an economic boost to a midsize city that is seeing hard times. Home to troubled aircraft and car manufacturing plants, Ulyanovsk is gradually losing population.

It has already lost most of its tourism business. In 1924, the city was renamed after its famous native son, Vladimir Ulyanov, better known as Vladimir Lenin.

During the communist era, the birthplace of Lenin became a pilgrimage site for millions of school children. Two decades ago, when communism collapsed, this tourism went with it.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs