Russia has closed off a corridor in its territory that would have allowed NATO military trucks carrying supplies to Afghanistan to pass through. Moscow said the Ulyanovsk transshipment hub had been idle for some time.
In a decree dated May 15 that was published on a government website Monday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the closure of the transport corridor was made “in connection with the termination of the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1386.” The non-use of the corridor by NATO and its member-countries was believed to have nothing to do with the ongoing Ukraine crisis.
The Ulyanovsk transshipment hub had not been utilized as early as 2013. The military alliance said it stopped using the transport corridor because of the exorbitant fees charged by the Russian freight forwarders authorized to service the route. Russia had offered the passage to NATO forces by virtue of Resolution 1386 signed during a 2001 UN Security Council meeting. The agreement likewise specifically allowed the U.S. and its military aircraft to make 4,500 flights annually using Russian airspace so it can transport needed supplies to its forces in Afghanistan.
Launched in 2012, Russia and NATO had expected relations to turn positive between them, aided by the Ulyanovsk project. Russia Beyond The Headlines reports both parties had envisioned it as one of the most successful examples of cooperation.
But the Ukraine crisis could have been a reason why NATO no longer considered using the corridor. The provisions of the 1386 resolution terminated on December 31, 2014. The Ukraine crisis started April 2014.
“We received no appeals from NATO, NATO member-countries or countries taking part in ISAF on continuing cargo transit,” the Russian foreign ministry said. “In this connection, the governmental decree from 28 March 2008 was ruled null and void,” it added.
The closure of the Ulyanovsk transshipment “marks the end of an era in Russia’s relations with NATO and the United States,” the Moscow Times says.