MOSCOW, September 26 (RIA Novosti)
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NATO hopes to sign the first commercial agreement with Russia on use of the Ulyanovsk transit base for withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan "within the next few months," a NATO spokesman in Moscow said on Wednesday.
The huge amount of cargo being returned from Afghanistan means NATO will need all the assets it has, NATO's Moscow office spokesman Robert Pshel said. The alliance is looking forward to signing the first commercial contracts with Russia to use the transit hub in Ulyanovsk in the next few months, he said.
The transit hub would not be a NATO military base, he stressed, but only a transit point for non-lethal cargo.
There is a high chance NATO will use Russian aircraft to carry cargo from Afghanistan to the transit hub, he said. NATO already uses Russian-owned Ilyushin Il-76 and Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft operated by commercial airlines.
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Any response would likely boomerang on Russia – the partnership between Rosneft and ExxonMobil is a case in point. The United States has hit Russia with a third round of sanctions. This time the Americans went with a higher caliber weapon, targeting Russia’s biggest energy companies (Rosneft and Novatek) and banks (VEB and Gazprombank).