MOSCOW, February 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has no plans to end US cargo traffic to Afghanistan via its territory despite differences in relations between the two states, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on Tuesday.
“Cargo transit [to Afghanistan] via Russian territory is an important aspect of our cooperation, and we have no plans to end it,” Gatilov said.
Russia is interested in Afghanistan’s future stability, especially after the withdrawal of the international military contingent due to be completed by the end of 2014, he added.
Russia has allowed Afghanistan-bound NATO transport through its territory since 2009 as an alternative to transit routes through Pakistan, where NATO convoys have frequently come under militant attacks. In September 2012, NATO's Moscow office spokesman Robert Pshel said the alliance was looking forward to signing the first commercial contracts with Russia to use a transit hub in Ulyanovsk as well as Russian aircraft.
Relations between Moscow and Washington have been tainted in recent months by the introduction of the US Magnitsky Act aimed at Russian officials, and Russia's adoption of the Dima Yakovlev law, aimed at US officials. The two nations also remain at odds over Syria and European Missile Defense.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.