Lending a Paw in Afghanistan

To date, Russia has allowed more than 2,200 flights, 379,000 personnel, and more than 45,000 containers of cargo to transit its territory in support of NATO operations in Afghanistan, announced State Department officials June 18. Further, Russia continues to expand the scope of its cooperation under the NATO-Russia helicopter maintenance trust fund that supports Afghanistan’s fleet of Russian-built Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters, according to the State Department’s fact sheet. For example, later this year, 30 Afghan helicopter technicians will travel to Russia for advanced maintenance training, states the fact sheet. This will enhance the Afghan security forces’ capacity to keep their fleet of helicopters mission-ready as they assume greater responsibility for their nation’s security, it states. NATO and Russia established the HMTF in April 2011. The fact sheet came out on the same day that President Obama met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Los Cabos, Mexico, to discuss bilateral relations. (For background on the HMTF, see this NATO release.)