Russia permits US forces on territory

Reposted from Morning Star RUSSIA said on Friday that it will allow US military supplies for Afghanistan to cross its territory.

Moscow has agreed to open routes for 'non-lethal' supplies. It will provide an important alternative to roads through Pakistan, where locals have frequently attacked convoys.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov did not specify whether Russia would provide land or air corridors, but US and other NATO occupation forces have mostly been interested in land routes that would allow them to move bulky cargo more cheaply.

Last year, Russia signed a framework deal with NATO for the transit of non-lethal cargo for coalition forces in Afghanistan and it has already allowed some NATO members, including Germany and Spain, to move supplies across its territory.

The announcement came on the same day that Kyrgyzstan said that it would not reverse its decision to close a key US air base on its territory despite the fact that parliament has delayed a vote on the decision until next week.

Kyrgyzstan's national security council chief Adakhan Madumarov said that the impending closure of Manas air base was final, adding that he was sure of winning parliamentary support.

US officials claimed that the decision had been the result of pressure from Moscow as Kyrgyzstan's president announced the closure of the base on a visit to Moscow on Tuesday, just hours after securing more than £1.36 billion in loans and aid from Russia.

Russia and Kyrgyzstan have both denied the allegation.

Kyrgyzstan has repeatedly complained that the US is paying too little to lease the base.

The facility, located within the Manas civilian airport near the capital Bishkek, is home to tanker planes that refuel warplanes flying over Afghanistan.

It also supports airlifts and medical evacuation operations and houses troops heading into and out of Afghanistan. Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan do not share a border.

Its closure will pose a serious challenge to US President Barack Obama's plan to send up to 30,000 more US troops to fight the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

Increasing attacks on transportation depots and convoys in Pakistan have raised doubts about its ability to protect vital supply routes. About 75 per cent of US supplies to Afghanistan currently travel through Pakistan.