Russia allows transit of US military supplies
Russia said Friday that it will start allowing US military supplies for Afghanistan to cross its territory, while Kyrgyzstan said it will not reverse its decision to close a key US air base.
Kyrgyzstan's National Security Council chief appeared to dash any US hopes of securing a last-minute reprieve for the Manas air base. Russia's move is unlikely to make up for the loss of the base, home to air operations like refuelling and medical evacuation.
But Russia's opening of routes for non-lethal supplies could provide an important alternative to roads through Pakistan that are increasingly threatened by militant attacks.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov did not specify if Russia would provide land or air corridors but the US and other Nato have mostly been interested in land routes that would let them to more cheaply move bulky cargo.
By welcoming the transit of US supplies, Lavrov appeared to send a signal to Washington that Russia is ready to help on Afghanistan if the US deals with Moscow when it comes to Central Asia.
Russia last year signed a framework deal with Nato for transit of non-lethal cargo for coalition forces in Afghanistan and has allowed some alliance members, including Germany and Spain to move supplies across its territory.