Press conference on US-Uzbek relations

Press Conference

Robert O. Blake, Jr. Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
U.S. Embassy Atrium, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
February 18, 2011

Assistant Secretary Blake: […] I noted that the Unites States highly values Uzbekistan’s support for international efforts in Afghanistan, including allowing the transit of non-lethal supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan, the provision of electricity to Afghanistan, and the construction of a railway line from Hairaton to Mazar-e Sharif.

Question: Are you looking at the possibility of transporting military supplies through Uzbekistan?

Assistant Secretary Blake: The supplies that are transiting through Uzbek territory are all non-lethal supplies. Once again I would like to express the appreciation of the United States for the Government of Uzbekistan’s support in this regard.


Question: What can you say about the Northern Distribution Network? And do you have any statistics on how many containers, how many tons of cargo have moved through Uzbekistan? And another question is – how much is the government of Uzbekistan paid for the transit of one container?

Assistant Secretary Blake: I’m afraid this is a bit too detailed for a non-specialist like me. I suggest you contact the Central Command. They might be able to provide some of that information. But I’m flattered that you think I might know that.

Source: US State Department, 2011-02-18

Increase in Uzbek rail tariffs

FMN Logistics Responds to Increased Uzbek Rail Tariffs

Rising tariffs will affect wide range of NDN operations

(Tashkent, Uzbekistan, February 3, 2011) – FMN Logistics, Inc., a provider of freight forwarding and logistics services, today responds to the recent significant tariff increase imposed on Northern Distribution Network (NDN) rail cargo by Uzbekistan Temir Yullari (UTI), the national railroad of Uzbekistan. UTI levied a tariff increase effective on February 1st on consigned shipments for United States and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) non-lethal rail cargo into and out of Afghanistan.

“FMN Logistics is following these developments very closely,” said Harry Eustace, Jr. CEO of FMN Logistics. “We are communicating with our customers and all of our partners in Central Asia to ensure that everyone fully understands how this tariff hike will impact shipping operations into and out of Afghanistan. Our goal is to assure that there is no disruption to important deliveries of food and other non-lethal cargo movements.”

About FMN Logistics

FMN Logistics is a specialist freight forwarding and logistics service provider with headquarters in Washington, DC and operations throughout Central Asia and the Middle East. In 2010, FMN delivered over 2,500 cargo containers to Afghanistan for US and ISAF forces. FMN is the largest volume logistics service provider in Central Asia for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Source: Fifth Millennium Networks, Inc, 2011-02-03

Russian agrees to facilitate transit traffic

NATO-Russia Council Joint Statement at the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council held in Lisbon on 20 November 2010

We, the Heads of State and Government of the NATO-Russia Council, met today in Lisbon and affirmed that we have embarked on a new stage of cooperation towards a true strategic partnership.

We underlined the importance of international efforts in support of the Afghan Government and in promoting regional peace and stability. In that context, the revised arrangements aimed at further facilitating railway transit of non-lethal ISAF goods through Russian territory are of particular value.

Source: NATO, 2010-11-20

Northern Distribution Network in action

Northern route eases supplies to US forces in Afghanistan at The International Institute For Strategic Studies. With a map, and a graph of container traffic.

Some interesting snippets:

  • Moving supplies via the northern rail route costs approximately 10% of the cost of movement by air.
  • NATO has also begun using the NDN. The first trial shipment of NATO cargo, consisting of 27 containers of construction materials and food supplies, departed from Riga, Latvia, in May 2010. Russia had offered transit to NATO at the Alliance’s 2008 Bucharest summit, but it was not until 2009 that NATO began negotiating transit rights with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, and these talks took almost a year to complete.
  • [The Termez to Hairatan railway] has reached its handling capacity of 4,000 tonnes of cargo per month. Until upgrades are completed, this border crossing is likely to remain a choke point. Meanwhile, railway experts have questioned whether the existing rail route through Uzbekistan is capable of handling the amount of traffic envisioned by the US military and its allies.

Uzbek bottleneck on the Northern Distribution Network


Deirdre Tynan 2/02/10

On land, the NDN also appears to be experiencing some problems. Although the US Department of Defense insists the NDN is running at top capacity, Dmitri Rogozin, Russia’s mischievous envoy to NATO, told the Russian news paper Izvestia on January 26 that “there are some technical problems associated with an overload on one of the railway routes.”

Experts caution that additional land routes, whether routed through China or eastern Russia, could ultimately face the same problem — a bottleneck in Uzbekistan. “The problem isn’t the route to Central Asia, it is getting across Uzbekistan [to Afghanistan]. So you can have 10 ways to get to Termez, but what’s the difference?” a well-placed source told EurasiaNet.

Until major upgrades are completed at the Termez-Hairaton border crossing, and action taken to contain corruption and red tape, Uzbekistan is likely to continue to act as a choke point for US and NATO supplies bound for Afghanistan, the source added.
Source: Eurasianet , 2010-02-20