RUSSIA, NATO AND AFGHANISTAN: International operation in Afghanistan: preparations for termination continue

Allied Troops on High Ground Overlooking Afghan Valley

RUSSIAN AVIATION WILL BRING NATO’S NON-LETHAL CONSIGNMENTS OUT OF AFGHANISTAN –  Izvestia – August 30, 2012 –  Aleksei Mikhailov

[no direct link available to English translation of article]

Izvestia reports that Russian pilots from the the Russian 224th Flight Group will help bring non-lethal NATO consignments out of Afghanistan.  Included will be the property of 50 countries participating in the international operation in Afghanistan, both NATO and non-NATO.  The latter include Mongolia, Ukraine and Georgia.

A NATO spokesman explained:

“The contract permits NATO consignments to be retrieved from Afghanistan via Russia and specifically Ulianovsk. Since the matter concerns property of national defense ministries and not NATO as such, every sovereign country is free to make its own decision concerning the carrier and the route. Still, absolutely every country including Georgia will be able to make use of route via Ulianovsk.”

A Russian Foreign Ministry source indicated negotiations on the arrangement have been underway since 2009, and that the Ulianovsk transit contract with NATO would be signed before the end of 2012.

Apparently one complication involves NATO rules impacting contracting between NATO and entities not registered within NATO member countries, requiring the use of intermediaries. “SALIS was established in 2005 in this manner in order to organize runs to Afghanistan for the planes of the Russian Volga-Dnieper and Ukrainian Antonov.”

Meanwhile:

Every country currently involved in the operation in Afghanistan will organize a special contest for prospective carriers. It is already known that three carriers will participate – Volga-Dnieper (sixteen AN-124s together with the Ukrainian Antonov), Polyot (six AN-124s), and 224th Flight Group (seven AN-124s). These are the three carriers whose planes have the necessary range and payload capacity (80-90 tons).

[no direct link available to English translation of article]