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BRUSSELS, July 20 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia and NATO have approached the launch of combined transit of non-lethal cargo for international forces in Afghanistan through Ulyanovsk, Russia’s Acting Permanent Representative of to NATO Nicholas Korchunov said in an exclusive interview with Itar-Tass.
According to him, this route would be launched in early August.
"Combined transit of non-lethal cargo for International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan /ISAF/ through the territory of the Russian Federation will be carried by rail, road and air transport on a commercial basis", he said.
"Containers will be transported by ISAF forces from Afghanistan and in the opposite direction by Russian heavy cargo carriers, in particular by the Volga-Dnepr group of companies. In Ulyanovsk, containers will be reloaded on railway platforms and to go to the destination. We shall use exclusively civilian objects of the airport in Ulyanovsk and access tracks certified for international freight transport," the diplomat said. The agreements between Russia and NATO exclude sending in the direction of the Russian Federation of NATO’s military personnel of any kind in connection with these services.
Transit of goods "will be made under control of the Russian customs authorities, including, to prevent the use of this route for smuggling, first of all of drugs." NATO’s weapons or military will not be transportation via the territory of the Russian Federation.
The decisions on the transportation of their goods on the "southern" /through Pakistan/ "central" /through Central Asia and Caucasus/ or "northern" /via the Russian Federation/ route will be taken by forces of ISAF participating countries based on safety routes, transportation timing and expenses.
"NATO’s rear structures are developing schemes of cargo transportation and prepare necessary legal documents. The question of setting price parameters for delivery of containers will be subject of commercial negotiations," Korchunov said.
According to him, NATO members “are interested in expanding the traffic through the "northern route", the length of which is 4,500 kilometres, of which 1,900 kilometres cross the territory of the Russian Federation." Its main advantages are: "the stability of supply, timeliness of delivery, a complete safety of goods and balanced rates of carriers." Responsibility for safety of the goods and for informing the customer about the stages of transportation is entirely of transport and forwarding companies.
"Generally speaking, the growth of the volume of traffic through the" northern route "creates additional prerequisites for the development of the transport capacity of this country", the diplomat concluded.
In 2012, NATO begins its withdrawal from Afghanistan, which should be completed by the end of 2014. Given that according to NATO, ISAF account for nearly 130,000 people, this process will involve huge volume of freight traffic.