Russia approves plans for NATO base

June 29, 2012 at 9:49 AM

MOSCOW, June 29 (UPI) -- Moscow confirmed Friday that it gave its consent for NATO to use an air base as a transit hub for operations in Afghanistan.

The Kremlin said it approved a decree for U.S. and NATO forces to use the Russian airbase in Ulyanovsk as a transit hub, Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports.

Announcements of the proposal sparked protests early this year in the region, the birthplace of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin. Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov said the NATO deal was "humiliating."

NATO authorities, however, said there were no plans to establish a full military presence at the Russian air base.

The announcement comes amid debate over plans for a missile defense shield in Europe. Washington and its allies say missile defense in Europe would counter regional aggression for adversaries such as Iran.

NATO leaders, during an annual summit in Chicago, issued a proclamation stating that the "appropriate mix of nuclear, conventional and missile defense capabilities" was vital for the security of the alliance.

Russia, however, said it viewed the plans as a threat to its national security, warning it may take corresponding action along its western border.

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