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The United States and Russia share a common goal of building a safe and stable Central Asia, free from extremism, terrorism, and illegal narcotics that destabilize the region. That is why, during last month's summit in Moscow, Russia agreed to cooperate with the U.S. in Afghanistan by signing a military transit agreement.
In a joint statement, U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev confirmed their support of United Nations Council Resolution 1386, which authorizes military forces for Afghanistan, and announced their intent "to make active use of the transit route through the territory of the Russian Federation for deliveries of property and equipment for the needs of international forces operating in Afghanistan."
The accord allows the United States to fly over Russian territory when transporting military equipment and personnel to support U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
The agreement will permit 4500 military and unlimited commercial flights per year, yielding tremendous savings, said Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, and former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Alexander Vershbow:
"The agreement will diversify the crucial supply routes to Afghanistan, reduce transit times and fuel usage, and complement agreements we have made with others in the region. We will continue to use all available routes to Afghanistan and not become overly dependent on any one of them. It should take no more than 60 days to implement the agreement," said Mr. Vershbow.
Flying a direct route across Russia will be of great help to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, or ISAF, said President Barack Obama:
"This is a substantial contribution by Russia to our international effort, and it will save the United States time and resources in giving our troops the support they need."
The United States and Russia both recognize that the Taliban are a threat to both countries and the rest of the world. By agreeing to cooperate with the U.S. and ISAF, Russia has taken a significant step in helping to eliminate that threat.