Russland / USA

Rus­sia Allows Tran­sit for Afghanistan-bound U.S. Troops

WASHINGTON, July 6, 2009 — An agree­ment signed in Moscow today per­mits the Unit­ed States to tran­sit troops and weapons across Russ­ian ter­ri­to­ry en route to Afghanistan.
The pact, signed dur­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s vis­it to the Krem­lin, per­mits 4,500 flights per year through Russ­ian air­space, and saves the U.S. gov­ern­ment $133 mil­lion annu­al­ly in trans­porta­tion costs while boost­ing logis­ti­cal effi­cien­cy, accord­ing to a White House state­ment.

This is a sub­stan­tial con­tri­bu­tion by Rus­sia to our inter­na­tion­al effort, and it will save the Unit­ed States time and resources in giv­ing our troops the sup­port that they need,” Oba­ma said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence with Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Dmitri Medvedev.

Fol­low­ing today’s meet­ing between the two pres­i­dents, Oba­ma told reporters that he and Medvedev agreed on the need to com­bat the threat of vio­lent extrem­ism, par­tic­u­lar­ly from al-Qai­da. Access to Russ­ian tran­sit routes sub­stan­tial­ly increas­es the effi­cien­cy of efforts against vio­lent extrem­ism in Afghanistan, the White House state­ment said.

Oba­ma said Russia’s par­tic­i­pa­tion and con­tri­bu­tions to the effort in Afghanistan have the poten­tial to be “extra­or­di­nar­i­ly impor­tant.” More broad­ly, he said, today’s ges­ture indi­cates the degree in which Russian-U.S. coop­er­a­tion could be applied to a host of oth­er inter­na­tion­al issues.

Under­scor­ing the two coun­tries’ mutu­al inter­ests in Afghanistan, the pres­i­dent cit­ed Moscow’s con­cern about ter­ror­ism and the drug trade and their infil­tra­tion into Rus­sia. Oba­ma also praised Russia’s capa­bil­i­ties in train­ing police and armies, a task that multi­na­tion­al forces are under­tak­ing with Afghanistan’s grow­ing nation­al secu­ri­ty forces.

Speak­ing about the future of U.S.-Russian efforts in Afghanistan, Oba­ma expressed opti­mism that the U.S.-Russia Bilat­er­al Pres­i­den­tial Com­mis­sion agree­ment also signed today rep­re­sents a pre­lude to clos­er coop­er­a­tion.

Our hope is that as part of the broad­er pres­i­den­tial com­mis­sion struc­ture that we’ve put in place, that we’re going to fur­ther dis­cuss both the mil­i­tary efforts in Afghanistan, but also the devel­op­ment efforts and the diplo­mat­ic efforts, so that we can make progress,” he said.

Oba­ma thanked the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment for agree­ing to the tran­sit arrange­ment that will “save U.S. troops both time and mon­ey.”

And it’s, I think, a ges­ture that indi­cates the degree to which, in the future, Russian-U.S. coop­er­a­tion can be extra­or­di­nar­i­ly impor­tant in solv­ing a whole host of these very impor­tant inter­na­tion­al issues,” he added.

By John J. Kruzel
Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice