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Delicate Business: How Russia and Ukraine Help NATO

© AP Photo / Geert Vanden WijngaertNATO country flags wave outside NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday July 28, 2015.
NATO country flags wave outside NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday July 28, 2015. - Sputnik International
For almost ten years, a Russian-Ukrainian company has been managing the logistics of NATO countries and carrying out heavy air cargo transports. The SALIS project stood up to the Ukrainian crisis, however, its future is uncertain, Deutsche Welle reported.

While NATO countries are strengthening their presence in Eastern Europe against the background of the Ukrainian crisis and Russia is continuing to conduct its military exercises in turn, both sides surprisingly continue to cooperate closely in the field of air transport.

The joint Russian-Ukrainian company Ruslan SALIS GmbH is going on with cargo transport services for NATO countries, including Belgium, the UK, Germany, Finland and others. The joint venture was established in Leipzig in 2004 by Volga-Dnepr Group of Russia and Ukraine’s Antonov State Company.

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The company has been transporting NATO’s heavy and oversized cargo throughout the world. In summer 2015, it transported armored vehicles for the Iraqi Kurds to fight the militants of the Islamic State. The enterprise also transferred machinery and military equipment for a military exercise in Iceland in September 2015.

The project was established when the old NATO aircraft Transall C-160 became incapable of fulfilling advanced tasks and the new A400M had not yet been available to the alliance.

The main client of the company is Germany. Despite the Ukrainian crisis and strained political situation the German government is still supporting the project.

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In December 2014 a contract with Ruslan SALIS was extended for two years due to continuing demand for the company's services. New A400M aircraft available to NATO countries have a lower carrying capacity than Ruslan’s An-124, which can lift more than 120 tons.

Nevertheless, the future of the company remains uncertain. If the political situation does not change, the extension of the contract will be highly questionable.

"We are considering a new treaty that excludes the participation of Russian companies in the tender," a representative of NATO press service told DW. NATO plans to suspend practical cooperation with Russia because of its aggressive attitude towards Ukraine, the official stated.

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