MOSCOW – Russia’s foreign minister says the Kremlin is preparing to allow NATO to use an airport in central Russia as a transit center for soldiers and military cargo going to and from Afghanistan, VOA.com informs. Under this plan, military aircraft would take off from Kabul, and fly almost 3,000 kilometers over Central Asia, to Ulyanovsk, a city on the banks of the Volga River. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russia’s Duma Wednesday that use of the airport would meet Russian interests by allowing NATO to make an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan by its December 2014 deadline. The announcement comes a day after authorities in Kyrgyzstan told visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that they would not extend the American lease on a local transit center beyond its expiration date in July 2014. Manas Transit Center, near Bishkek, has become the main point of entry and exit for NATO troops fromAfghanistan. Joshua Kucera, a Washington-based writer on Central Asia security affairs, says the Kyrgyz position may simply signal the start of rent talks by Kyrgyzstan’s new president, Almazbek Atambayev.