There is no question of setting up a NATO base in Russia, the director of the NATO information bureau in Moscow, Robert Pszel, said on Wednesday.
Russia’s Defense Ministry sources said in February that Moscow was in talks with NATO on a new transit agreement under which nonlethal cargoes from Afghanistan would be flown to the Volga city of Ulyanovsk, and then transferred to Europe by train.
There have been local protests amid the speculation that the transit hub would in fact be a full-fledged military base.
“I’m surprised that such questions come up,” he said in an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio, adding that only the transit of nonlethal cargo was involved.
“This is a new facility. Not a base, not a depot,” he said, speaking in Russian.
“There is no question of soldiers or weapons - only nonlethal supplies.”
Russia and NATO are doing that “jointly in order to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that “there are logical and logistical reasons why Ulyanovsk was chosen.”
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin earlier said the NATO transit facility in Ulyanovsk was necessary because stability in Afghanistan is in Russia’s national interests.
The Defense Ministry has said that goods transported through the territory of Russian will be checked by customs and that the transit hub is not a NATO or U.S. military base.