Victory in Afghanistan is impossible. Russia cannot support NATO.

October 29, 2010

Russia’s envoy to NATO on Wednesday dismissed reports that Russian troops could be sent back to Afghanistan two decades after the Soviet Union’s Red Army was forced out by the mujahedeen.

“We’ve already been in Afghanistan and we didn’t like it much,” Dmitry Rogozin told RIA Novosti.

The UK newspaper The Guardian said on Tuesday the proposal was on the table ahead of a landmark Russia-NATO summit in Lisbon next month.

The paper said Moscow and Brussels were discussing joint initiatives including “the contribution of Russian helicopters and crews to train Afghan pilots, possible Russian assistance in training Afghan national security forces, increased co-operation on counter-narcotics and border security, and improved transit and supply routes for NATO forces.”

“Maybe someone wants Russia to supply cannon fodder to Afghanistan,” Rogozin went on.

The Soviet Union was involved in a bitter decade-long conflict in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. A million Afghan civilians and fighters are estimated to have lost their lives during the fighting. Some 15,000 Soviet soldiers also perished, and the return of Russian soldiers to the country would also be extremely unpopular in Russia.

The war had a profound impact on the Soviet Union, and has been cited as one of the key factors in the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Rogozin also said that Russia-NATO cooperation in Afghanistan consisted of training for Afghan and Pakistan police involved in the fight against drugs, transit and “the implementation of the so-called helicopter package.”

Russia is competing for a tender to supply Mi-17 helicopters to Afghanistan.

Russian crews will train Afghan pilots, but not in Afghanistan, Rogozin said. He also said that the issue of improved transit arrangements “has never been raised.”

In yet another report, published in The Telegraph, Russian envoy Mikhail Gorbachev has categorically stated “victory is impossible in Afghanistan”.

Below is the report published in The Telegraph.

Mr Gorbachev, who pulled Russian troops out of Afghanistan in 1989 after a 10-year war, said the US had no alternative but to withdraw troops.

“Victory is impossible in Afghanistan. [Barack] Obama is right to pull the troops out. No matter how difficult it will be,” he told the BBC.

Mr Gorbachev added that as the Soviets prepared to withdraw from Afghanistan, the US was training militants, “the same ones who today are terrorising Afghanistan and more and more of Pakistan”.

He said that because of this, withdrawal would be more difficult.

“But what’s the alternative – another Vietnam? Sending in half-a-million troops? That wouldn’t work.”

His comments came amid news that Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, will attend a NATO summit next month, to discuss plans for Russian forces to return to Afghanistan.

Nato officials said Russia had agreed to sell helicopters to Afghanistan and provide training.

Moscow will allow Nato forces to withdraw equipment from Afghanistan overland for the first time, in proposals expected to be agreed in Lisbon.

“The summit can mark a new start in the relationship between Nato and Russia,” said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato secretary-general.

“We will hopefully agree on a broad range of areas in which we can develop practical co-operation on Afghanistan, counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics.”

He also said that British and US troops would remain on Afghanistan’s front lines for years under an open-ended agreement to be signed at the summit. Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has demanded that his forces take over the fight against the Taliban by 2014.

While his call has been embraced by Western leaders, including Prime Minister David Cameron who set a five-year deadline on the Army’s combat role, Mr Rasmussen said troops would not be withdrawn immediately.

Under a blueprint drawn up by Gen David Petraeus, Nato commander in Afghanistan, foreign troops would “thin out” but not leave disputed territory.

Source(s): http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/8089476/Mikhail-Gorbachev-victory-in-Afghanistan-is-impossible.html



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