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Russian hub for NATO’s Afghan transit

The two-day conference of the foreign and defence ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] which ended in Brussels on Thursday formally called on China, amongst other countries, to help finance Afghan security forces, which is estimated to cost 4 billion dollars annually. “We would welcome financial contributions from Russia, China and other countries to ensure a strong, sustainable Afghan security force beyond 2014″, secretary general Anders Fogh Rasumssen told reporters.

The aid appeal is primarily intended to ward off growing Russian demand for its inclusion in the NATO’s planning sessions on Afghanistan. But China has been singled out for reference. Beijing’s reaction will be interesting to watch. Seems unlikely that China will want to identify with the NATO’s residual war in Afghanistan. 
The Chinese assessment of Afghan realities are very down-to-earth. The Global Times featured this week an interview with a prominent think tanker, Li Wei, who is the director of the Institute of Security and Strategic Studies at Beijing. Li’s candid assessment is that the rosy pictures by the NATO and western intelligence is for propaganda purposes and for raising the morale of the coalition forces; Taliban enjoy support among Afghan people and have infiltrated the state organs including the security forces. 
Li even cast doubt on the NATO sticking to its withdrawal plans: “The Afghan government has yet to gain enough power to fight the Taliban on its own. Should NATO troops withdraw from Afghanistan, the situation will get much more complex… The Afghan government is too weak to maintain stability and still largely depends on NATO to fight the insurgents.” By the way, Institute of Security and Strategic Studies comes under the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, which is one of China’s most influential think tanks affiliated with China’s top intelligence agency, the Ministry of State Security. (Transcript of Li’s interview is here.)
A major difference between the Russian and Chinese approaches is that while Moscow has woven the Afghan question into the broad matrix of its ‘reset’ of ties with the United States, Beijing’s approach is intrinsic to the Afghan situation. Thus, at the Brussels meeting yesterday, Russia offered the use of Ulyanovsk as the transit hub for two-way ferrying of war materials, and NATO accepted the offer gleefully. On its part, NATO is accommodating a Russian representative at the alliance’s Chicago summit in May although Vladimir Putin may not attend.  

Posted in Diplomacy, Military.

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3 Responses

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  1. Venkat says

    Best news heard. It is much better for US to pay Russia rather than treacherous Pakistan for transit of supplies. Hopefully as in Pakistan, atleast at “convenient times” the trucks will NOT be set fire and the same Arms will not appear in black market.

  2. Rajiv Shivashankar says

    The Chinese are a very complex lot and may have a lot of tricks up their sleeves which the Americans will come of only after a few years. The US is falling behind China in almost every field, and for them to think they can match the Chinese is foolishness. The Russians are in it to make a fast buck. Transit services at a cost, rest and relaxation services at a cost, and every thing NATO wants will be provided by Russia at a cost. China will watch, and plan on how to use the time after NATO leaves to its advantage. India is too naive in this game, and may lose people in the long run with no effective return, since the Pakistani’s and Chinese armed Taliban will work against India.
    Let us watch USA and NATO run out of Afghanistan with greater losses than the Russians, while China conserves its power and Pakistan plays its proxies. It is not a war that will get over soon.
    Wonder where the US is headed, and only this election will tell us if hawkish attitudes will win American votes. Anyway, looks like the USA is the biggest loser in his game.

  3. Johan says

    “… to help finance Afghan security forces …”
    :-)

    It would be exactly like doing the same for the puppet “South Vietnam” in 1970s… Chinese are anything but stupid.

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