Saturday, February 21, 2009

AfPak: Northern suppy route rolling

The train has left the station:
Tajikistan allows NATO cargo transit to Afghanistan

DUSHANBE (Reuters) - Tajikistan has allowed the transit of NATO non-military cargo to Afghanistan by land, a U.S. military commander said on Friday, and pro-Moscow neighbor Kyrgyzstan formalized the closure of a U.S. air base.

Washington is seeking to diversify supply routes for its troops in Afghanistan as militants in Pakistan step up attacks on supply convoys.

"Tajikistan has allowed (NATO) to use its railways and roads to transit non-military goods [emphasis added] to Afghanistan," Rear Admiral Mark Harnitchek of the U.S. Transportation Command said on Tajik state television.

He added that Uzbekistan, another Central Asian state that is part of NATO's new supply route to Afghanistan, had also allowed cargo transit, indicating agreements with countries along a new transit land line have now been secured.

An official at Latvia's Riga port said on Friday the first batch of U.S. cargo was already on its way to Afghanistan.

"The first train is out of the port. It left last night," the official said.

From Latvia, NATO's non-military cargo will travel along a planned railway supply route dubbed the Northern Distribution Network which will run across Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan
[emphasis added].

Tajikistan's Central Asian neighbor Kyrgyzstan sent the U.S. ambassador a formal notice on Friday demanding that Washington close its military air base in the country and giving U.S. troops 180 days to leave -- in a final step to shut down the base.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev signed the base closure decision into law on Friday and the Foreign Ministry sent the eviction notice later in the day.

The decision removes one of the U.S. military's air supply routes into Afghanistan as Washington prepares to send more troops.

Harnitchek is in Tajikistan with a U.S. military logistics delegation to work out the details of the plan.

"We plan to ship 50 to 200 containers a week from Uzbekistan to Tajikistan and then to Afghanistan," Harnitchek said. "Tajikistan is very important because it is closest to our bases."

The United States has said that cargo such as building materials, medicines and water would be delivered to Uzbekistan by rail via Russia and Kazakhstan [emphasis added]...
Click to enlarge
Major Asian rail lines--note that none enter Afstan:

As for trains and stations:

Update: Reaction to the supply situation at


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