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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Only One U.S. Cargo Sent to Afghanistan via Russia

MOSCOW — The United States has so far sent only one shipment of supplies through Russian airspace to its troops in Afghanistan since Moscow and Washington agreed a transit deal in July, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.

The White House had said the deal on transit of troops, supplies and weapons, which was struck when U.S. President Barack Obama visited Russia, would allow up to 4,500 flights a year and save up to $133 million a year in transit costs.

"Once in early August, such a cargo was delivered," said Kremlin spokeswoman Natalya Timakova, without elaborating on why the American side had made so few requests for flights.

The deal, the first achievement towards "resetting" thorny relations between Moscow and Washington, was advertised during Obama's visit as an alternative to more dangerous routes, such as via Pakistan.

"There are no problems on our side," said Timakova. "We are open for cooperation."

Analysts have warned that airlifting major supplies through the vast territories of Russia and the Central Asian, ex-Soviet republics could be excessively expensive. Negotiating a land transit deal could be a realistic alternative, they say.

President Dmitry Medvedev has said Russia fully backs U.S.-led efforts to crush Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan, although it would not send its own soldiers to fight in the country where Moscow lost a 10-year war in the 1980s.

Russia views instability in Afghanistan as a major security threat to itself and its southern, predominantly Muslim neighbors as well as a source of growing drug traffic.