As Russia and Ukraine help NATO of

As Russia and Ukraine help NATO of

Nearly ten years the Russian-Ukrainian firm transports for NATO by air superheavy cargoes. The SALIS project passed test by the Ukrainian crisis. But its future – is foggy.

In the Urals in the past weekend the Russian military doctrines largest in this year "Center-2015" came to the end. Shortly before this NATO at once in several countries carried out the most large-scale after the completion of cold war of the doctrine of paratroopers. The alliance strengthens presence at Eastern Europe which countries see for themselves danger from Russia.

In the new military doctrine of Moscow approved in December, 2014 strengthening of North Atlantic alliance is called one of threats. Ukraine in the military doctrine accepted in August, called the Russian Federation the opponent. On this background that fact, as Russia, both Ukraine especially looks surprising, and NATO continue to cooperate closely in the sphere of air transport.

The help from the former opponent in cold war

Central point of this interaction – the airport of Leipzig in the east of Germany. The Russian and Ukrainian transport Ruslan An-124 planes here are based. They transport for NATO superheavy and large-sized cargoes worldwide. By request of Berlin at the end of July "Ruslans" delivered armoured cars for the Iraq Kurds howling with fighters of «The Islamic state» (YOKES). And in September – equipment and military equipment on the international doctrines in Iceland. In Leipzig ten years there is a head office of Ruslan SALIS. This joint venture of the private Russian air-transport company "Volga-Dnepr" and Ukrainian state enterprise "Antonov".

SALIS is deciphered, as Strategic Airlift Interim Solution, that is «makeshift for strategic air transportation». The project arose, when old Transall C-160 planes any more did not cope with tasks, and new А400М did not arrive yet in NATO fleet. The alliance addressed for the help in transportation of helicopters, tanks and trucks to Ukraine and Russia – to successors of the Soviet Union, the opponent of the West in cold war. The contract was signed at the end of 2005. Two An-124 constantly are on duty in Leipzig, four more – can be ordered in addition. The European Union also uses these planes for civil missions.

Germany – the major customer

13 countries of NATO use in total services SALIS. The USA do not participate in the project. The major customer – Germany. In 2014 by request of Berlin 14 thousand tons of cargoes for total amount of 67 million euros were transported, reported DW in the press service of the Ministry of Defence of Germany. This year the sum, seemingly, will be less. For the first half of the year Germany paid about 21 million euros for the services SALIS.

Despite changed after annexation of the Crimea by Russia a political situation the government of Germany supports the project. The country signed the contract with Ruslan SALIS firm, instead of with the Russian company, noted in the Ministry of Defence. In the press service pointed to the letter received from the Russian partner in March, 2014. In it it is said that «events in Ukraine will not have consequences» for business. And in the Ministry of Defence of Germany, and in NATO of DW confirmed that could be convinced of it in practice.

Meanwhile in connection with the Russian-Ukrainian conflict because of annexation of the Crimea and support of separatists by Moscow in Donbass cooperation between two countries in many spheres appeared in doubt, and in some – was stopped. So, Kiev broke off interaction with Moscow in the military sphere. After the civil enterprise "Antonov" in April became a part of Ukroboronprom state concern, in the middle of September the government in Kiev made the decision on "Antonov’s" exit from the joint Russian-Ukrainian enterprise "OAK-Antonov".


For the Volga-Dnepr company from Ulyanovsk and Kiev "Antonov", cofounders of Ruslan SALIS, is became serious blow. After all they still depend from each other. It is reported that Ukrainians are necessary to Russians for operation of planes abroad and their modernizations as copyright belongs to "Antonov" as to the developer. The Russian contacts in the world markets, spare parts and logistics are in turn necessary for Ukrainians.

After the termination of cooperation with the Russian clients of SALIS for "Antonov" – one of few sources of the income. According to some mass media, Ukrainians even after annexation of the Crimea gave "good" on operation of the Russian planes, without advertizing it. Ruslan SALIS refused interview, comments from the Ukrainian and Russian participants of DW joint venture also did not manage to be received.

«When, despite crisis, the Russian-Ukrainian firm works and reliably renders services to the countries of NATO is a good sign», – Ranier Arnold (Rainer Arnold), the deputy of the Bundestag from Social Democratic Party of the-junior partner of Christian democrats on a coalition ruling in Germany considers. According to him, Germany is interested in the termination of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. SALIS are supported also by opposition. «I personally consider, what even in a present situation the project can work, while both parties execute terms of the contract», – Tobias Lindner (Tobias Lindner) from parliamentary fraction of "green" explained.

And the expert of the Berlin fund «A science and policy» Wolfgang Richter (Wolfgang Richter) specifies that Russia NATO anybody yet did not cancel the Fundamental act signed in 1997. There it is written that the North Atlantic alliance and the Russian Federation do not consider each other as opponents. The SALIS project, according to Richter, shows that «at the same time with fundamental divergences in perception of the European safety … nevertheless there are common interests».

It is less works and an exit of Great Britain

In December, 2014 the contract with Ruslan SALIS was prolonged for two years. Remaining demand for company services became the reason, seemingly. New A400M though began to arrive with delay to NATO member states, but their loading capacity three times concedes An-124 who can lift more than 120 tons in air.

But as a whole works for Ruslan SALIS became less to what annual reports of NATO agency NSPA testify. It is not connected with the conflict in Ukraine, certified DW the representative of the press service of alliance. Because of NATO missions abroad, especially in Mali, the 2013th became record. That year the number of the flight hours, which planes of the Ruslan SALIS enterprise custom-made NATO, exceeded a mark 6600, it is noted in the report.

In 2014 of SALIS played «a big role» in NATO withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, but by number of flight hours (3800) result was below the previous, record year. In the 2015th and 2016th NATO undertook to pay, at least, 1850 flight hours annually. The possible reason of reduction of number of orders – an exit from the project in January, 2015 of Great Britain. She was one of the main clients of the Russian-Ukrainian enterprise.

Not clear future after 2016

Whether the contract will be prolonged once again, difficultly to tell. Germany, seemingly, would be pro. Without SALIS favorable at the price of transportation of large-sized cargoes now and in the foreseeable future "are almost impossible", speak in Berlin. But NATO, seemingly, can have other plans.

«The new contract which are excluded by participation of the Russian companies in the tender» is considered, – reported DW the employee of the press service of alliance. – It occurs in a context of the decision of NATO made in last year to suspend practical cooperation with Russia because of its aggressive relation to Ukraine». It is a question of the statement of heads the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the countries of NATO in April, 2014. On specifying question, whether Ruslan SALIS will be excluded from the tender for the period after 2016, the representative of alliance answered:« This decision behind SALIS participating countries».

Roman Goncharenko