NATO to Suspend Cooperation with Russia on Afghan Choppers, Training
NATO will suspend cooperation with Russia on the maintenance of Afghan helicopters and a joint anti-drug operation, a source in the alliance told RIA Novosti.
Foreign chiefs of NATO's 28 member states earlier froze "practical civilian and military cooperation" with Moscow but vowed to keep intact the NATO-Russia Council and diplomatic contacts at the ambassadorial level and above.
They also said Tuesday the Western military bloc would consider reviving ties with Moscow during the next Brussels meeting in June.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen earlier said the bloc hoped to continue working with Russia in Afghanistan and train anti-drug officials in Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to an anonymous source in the alliance, current trainees will be allowed to complete the training program. The project will then be scrapped.
The same future lies ahead for the maintenance program of Afghan helicopters, meaning NATO will have to think of another way to procure spare parts for the Russia-made choppers, bypassing the NATO-Russia Council.
The freeze in Russia-NATO cooperation will not affect the existing bilateral agreement on cargo transit to Afghanistan across Russian territory.
The source also noted that the freeze would stay in place indefinitely until the situation around Ukraine improved. These measures, the official explained, are linked to Russia's handling of the Ukrainian crisis and would be lifted only when Moscow changed its stance on the issue.
Russia has been reluctant to negotiate with Ukraine, where an ultranationalist opposition has been in power since a February coup, calling the new government illegitimate.
The West has long been pressuring Moscow to recognize the Maidan regime, despite the fact that Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich has never been impeached and fled the country for fear of being executed by right-wing militia.
Source: Moscow, RIA Novosti News - 2 April 2014
Photo: The Afghan Army Mi-17 helicopter takes off for an air-assault training flight from Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan (Photo by © US Army / Staff Sgt. Todd Poulio)