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Ukraine Offers Help in NATO Pullout from Afghanistan

RIA Novosti

19:38 19/04/2012 KIEV, April 19 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine has offered NATO its air transport capability to help the Alliance withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko said on Thursday.

According to NATO plans, most of the 130,000 foreign troops must leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, while the Afghan army and security forces are gradually taking over control of security in the war-torn Central Asian country.

“We have offered capabilities of our transport aircraft fleet, which has been working with NATO for a long time, to assist in the transportation of troops and military equipment from Afghanistan during the withdrawal period,” Hryshchenko said.

Ukrainian heavy-lift transport aircraft Antonov An-124-100 are favorites at a new NATO tender for the fulfillment of strategic air transportation under the SALIS (Strategic Airlift Interim Solution) program.

The Ukrainian state company Antonov and the Russian group Volga-Dnepr submitted in the beginning of April a joint application for the tender.

Up to six An-124-100s of the united fleet of Antonov company and Volga-Dnepr have been involved in strategic air transportations in the interests of 18 NATO countries under a contract signed in 2006.

Since March 2006, An-124-100s have performed more than 2,100 flights under the SALIS program, carrying more than 120,000 tons of military and civilian cargoes around the world.

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