French Forces Withdrawing from Afghanistan Authorized to Land in Kazakhstan

• Category: Kazakhstan
ASTANA (RIA Novosti) – Following the protocol signed last month by the governments of Kazakhstan and France, Kazakh parliament gave French forces withdrawing from Afghanistan the authorization to use Shymkent airport located in south of Kazakhstan. Military hardware arriving on French planes will then be transported by rail to Europe.
Photo of the main building of Shymkent airport

Shymkent International Airport (IATA: CIT, ICAO: UAII). In 2004, it handled 97,000 passengers.

(Photo: courtesy of wanderluster.net)

The 2009 agreement, ratified by Kazakhstan’s lawmakers this week, forbids shipments of ammunition by rail. It also gives Kazakh authorities the right to bar any French cargo they consider a threat to Kazakhstan’s national security.

France has to fund the creation of the infrastructure necessary for the temporary bond storage and the area needed for higher customs control to ensure the transhipment operations in Shymkent airport. It will also finance the acquisition or the rent of loading vehicles to accelerate wagon loadings, construction of 400 meters of additional roads with hard coating, protection of freights in the temporary storage and en route on Kazakhstan’s railroad.

Kazakh Government forbids overload of any kind of equipment and limits the volume of military property to two trains, one of which must be in the process of formation, and the other on the road.

French troops ended combat duties in Afghanistan last month and returned to their barracks in the capital Kabul as a prelude to early withdrawal from the country. As of 1 November 2009, 4,000 French personnel were deployed in Afghanistan, including the air support of Combined Task Force 150 in the Indian Ocean. Furthermore, 150 gendarmes were deployed in late 2009. Operations in 2009 alone cost €450 millions, amounting to over half the €870 million Euros devoted to military operations abroad. 87 men have been killed. France has 14 fighter helicopters and more than 900 combat vehicles in the Afghanistan.