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Alibaba's Cainiao partners with Russian air-freight carrier Volga-Dnepr

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s logistics arm Cainiao Smart Logistics Network Ltd. signed a memorandum of agreement with Russian air-freight carrier Volga-Dnepr to strengthen its cross-border delivery services, according to a Dec. 17 post on the Chinese company's news site Alizila.

Under the contract, Cainiao will be able to access Volga-Dnepr's network and fleet of 41 airplanes. It also named the Moscow-based company as its preferred carrier for airlifting and logistics services.

Both companies plan to use their logistics assets in Asia, Europe and Russia to build an efficient shipping network, according to the site.

"The future of air freight is in the e-commerce sector with customers becoming more tech-savvy, internet-driven and demanding in terms of delivery services," Tatyana Arslanova, vice president for strategic management at Volga-Dnepr, said in a statement.

The news comes a few months after Alibaba said it will form an e-commerce joint venture in Russia with internet company Mail.ru Group Ltd., mobile operator MegaFon and Russian Direct Investment Fund.