NATO-Russia Council expands support to Afghan Air Force
NATO Foreign Ministers together with their Russian counterpart, Minister Sergey Lavrov, agreed to expand their support for the Afghan Air Force during a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) on Tuesday (23 April). “Today we launched the second phase of the NATO-Russia Trust Fund for the maintenance of helicopters in Afghanistan,” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
The decision expands the NRC’s support of the Afghan Air Force by providing training to technicians on more types of helicopter and in new areas such as developing the Afghan Air Force’s medical evacuation capability. “This project is of great value to Afghanistan and it shows that NATO-Russia Council efforts can make a vital contribution to security and stability in Afghanistan,” said the Secretary General, who chaired the NRC. The aim of the Trust Fund is to help bolster the ability of the Afghan Air Force to operate its fleet of 47 helicopters more efficiently by providing training for the technicians and required spare parts. The project, which was launched in March 2011, has so far trained 30 technicians.
The NRC will also expand practical cooperation in other areas this year. In June, an NRC counter-terrorism project will test for the first time technology jointly developed between Allies and Russia to detect explosives in crowded places. The test will be held in a metro station in a European capital. In September, the NATO-Russia joint air traffic system will conduct a live exercise to defend against terrorist threats to civilian aircraft.
NRC ministers also discussed progress in the NATO-led Afghan mission. The Secretary General said that the NRC shared “a common vision for Afghanistan, as a country that is secure, stable and at peace with itself and the wider region.” The ministers also discussed other regional and global security issues, including Syria and North Korea, and exchanged views on missile defence. “It is important that we keep working on this. We have the opportunity to re-energise our dialogue and we should use it,” Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said.
The NRC was founded in 2002 and consists of the 28 NATO Allies and Russia as equal members of the Council. For more details on cooperation in the NATO-Russia Council, see www.nato-russia-council.info