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Lavrov: Russia Has Allowed Just One U.S. Military Overflight To Afghanistan

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
MOSCOW (RFE/RL) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told RFE/RL today that Russia has allowed only one flight of lethal U.S. military equipment to transit its airspace en route to Afghanistan, despite a July agreement envisioning as many as 12 flights a day.

Speaking to RFE/RL's Russian Service, Lavrov said the United States had asked for transit permission for a second flight, but had recalled the decision for unknown reasons.

Lavrov said Moscow is ready to fulfill its transit agreement with Washington, but that the issue has been hindered by unresolved technical problems involving Central Asian states, particularly Kazakhstan.

The agreement on creating a Russian air corridor for the transit of lethal U.S. military equipment to Afghanistan was considered the leading achievement of an otherwise tepid summit between U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, in July 2009.

Speaking a few days after the summit, Lavrov said the U.S. military planned to carry out more than 4,000 flights a year.

A U.S. Pentagon spokeswoman told RFE/RL last week that there had been two test flights into Afghanistan under the agreement, the first of which landed at Bagram Air Base near Kabul in October.