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News Link • NATO

Putin signals support for NATO Afghan supply hub

•, By Gleb Bryanski
 Moscow is studying a request from NATO for use of facilities at an airport in the Volga River city of Ulyanovsk as a transit point for shipments of non-lethal supplies to and from Afghanistan by air, rail and road. 

Russia has allowed Afghan-bound NATO transport through its territory since 2009 as an alternative to convoys through Pakistan, which have been subject to militant attacks, but no permanent facility was involved.

  "I consider NATO ... a throwback to the Cold War era. It was created at a time when there was a bipolar system of international relations," said Putin, who has frequently criticized the alliance and its eastward expansion. 

But, in his last address to parliament as prime minister before his return to the Kremlin next month, Putin dismissed fears that NATO's use of the Ulyanovsk facility could represent a threat in Russia's heartland.

  "There will be no NATO base there," he said, but only "a hop over pad" for military cargo transit.

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