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NATO: Russia may help more in Afghanistan

NATO: Russia may help more in Afghanistan

Russia may provide assistance in training and equipping the embattled Afghan government security forces, alliance spokesman James Appathurai said Wednesday.
NATO's Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is scheduled meet with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin when he visits Moscow on Nov. 15 for a two-day visit. They will discuss areas of joint interest, primarily Afghanistan, Appathurai said.
"There is the possibility of Russian support for equipping the Afghan security forces (and) possibly offering other kinds of training," he said.
Relations between NATO and Russia have warmed steadily since they were briefly frozen in the aftermath of the Russo-Georgian war in August 2008.
Moscow has repeatedly expressed its willingness to help the war effort in Afghanistan, because it fears any return to power by Taliban extremists would destabilize Central Asia and endanger Russia's own security.
Despite continuing differences over NATO enlargement and other issues, Moscow has allowed NATO to ship supplies to its forces in Afghanistan through Russian territory to supplant the dangerous route through Pakistan.
NATO military officials have said they want Moscow to do more by providing more military assistance to Afghan forces since they are mostly armed with Russian weaponry. These include Kalashnikov assault rifles and other weapons, possibly including artillery and helicopters.
"On Afghanistan there is a clear prospect for stepping up cooperation. It is supported by a clear shared interest," Appathurai said. "Russia has no more desire to see terrorism, extremism and drugs flow out of Afghanistan than any of us."
Russian diplomats in Brussels were not immediately available for comment. But in the past they have said that while Moscow is willing to do more, there is no interest in providing troops in view of Russia's own disastrous experiences in Afghanistan during the 1980s, when the Soviet Union occupied the country and waged a bloody counterinsurgency war.
Appathurai said that differences remain over issues such NATO's plans for enlargement. These include Georgia and Ukraine, and are strongly opposed by Moscow.
"But the secretary-general's position is that we cannot allow these issues of difference to overshadow or hijack everything else," he said.
"Indeed, by moving forward in areas where we can cooperate we create a better climate for addressing the issues where we don't see eye-to-eye."


Updated : 2021-05-06 06:42 GMT+08:00