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Moscow’s trump card taken away while NATO plans to resume transit to Afghanistan through Pakistan

May 18, 2012, 14:43 UTC+3
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The Kommersant business daily wrote about resumption of NATO’s transit to Afghanistan through Pakistan and its effects for Russia.

The United States and Pakistan will resume the transit of NATO-bound cargoes to Afghanistan that was suspended last autumn over the crisis in relations between Washington and Islamabad. The daily reported that the signing of a new transit deal will be timed to coincide with the upcoming visit of Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari to Chicago, which will host the NATO summit on May 21-22. The lifting of Islamabad’s ban will deprive Moscow of its trump card in relations with NATO – Russia will lose its role of the only transit corridor to Afghanistan.

The resumption of transit through Pakistan means that Russia will stop to be the only transit corridor for shipping cargoes for NATO troops in Afghanistan. “Pakistan’s decision deprives Russia and Central Asian countries of their privilege to be the only transit corridor for cargoes bound for NATO forces in Afghanistan,” the director of Carnegie Moscow Centre, Dmitry Trenin, said. Meanwhile, “the transit through Pakistan remains risky over the Talibs.” Therefore “cooperation with Moscow on Afghanistan remains still important for the United States and NATO,” the expert said.

However, now it is not a too favourable moment for deepening this cooperation, especially after President Putin refused to attend the G8 Camp David summit. “This refusal is clearly unfavourable for Russia,” Trenin said. “The fact that Putin had a bad hair day in relations with the United States can be corrected. But the fact that Moscow as it appears has no strategy on the U.S. track arouses concern.”

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