World

April 19, 2012

Russia slams NATO withdrawal plans from Afghanistan, calls them ‘artificial’

by Slobodan Lekic
Associated Press

Russia’s foreign minister sharply criticized NATO’s plan to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan by 2014, saying April 19 that coalition troops should remain in the country until Afghan government forces are capable of ensuring security.

“As long as Afghanistan is not able to ensure by itself the security in the country, the artificial timelines of withdrawal are not correct and they should not be set,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

NATO plans to hand over lead responsibility for the war against the Taliban to the Afghan army and police by the middle of next year, then withdraw its troops by the end of 2014. The alliance already has started drawing down its forces, which reached a peak of about 140,000 last year.

NATO leaders say that Afghan forces are improving rapidly and will be able to counter Taliban guerrillas after 2014. But critics have pointed to widespread drug use and the high desertion rate among government forces as signs that it remains unprepared to handle the insurgents.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the alliance’s secretary general, responded to Lavrov’s criticism by saying the Afghan government has agreed with the withdrawal schedule, and that it is “definitely not artificial.” He also urged Russia, China and other non-NATO countries to help fund the post-2014 Afghan armed forces.

Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said that initially he also was worried about the drawdown. “Fortunately enough flexibility has been built into the plan … so there will not be so much of an impact as many people were thinking,” he said.

The Afghan army and police are scheduled to expand to more than 350,000 members in the next several months. NATO has already handed over to them responsibility for security over half of the country’s population, and the transition is set to continue.

Lavrov, who attended a meeting of NATO defence and foreign ministers in Brussels, said China and other countries in Asia also are worried about the withdrawal schedule.

Moscow views NATO’s military effort in Afghanistan as crucial for its own security, including helping to prevent instability from spreading into ex-Soviet Central Asia.

Russia, which is not a NATO member, has provided the alliance with air corridors and railway routes for carrying supplies to and from landlocked Afghanistan. The link has become particularly important since Pakistan blocked NATO supplies from crossing its territory following an alliance airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani border troops in November.

On Thursday, Lavrov and NATO ministers discussed a plan to give the alliance a new logistics facility on Russian territory to transfer military cargo to and from Afghanistan.

The proposal, now being considered by Russian lawmakers, would for the first time allow alliance members to set up a logistics facility in Ulyanovsk, Russia, for troops and cargo.

Officials said there were “no differences” between the two sides on the use of the air base in Ulyanovsk.

“We expect to expand the transit options offered to us by Russia … to Afghanistan,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after the meeting. “We appreciate very highly Russia’s contribution, which is based on our shared interests and contributes to our shared security.”

The former Cold War rivals remain sharply at odds, however, over a U.S.-led NATO missile defence plan in Europe that Washington says is aimed at deflecting a potential Iranian threat. Moscow fears it will eventually become powerful enough to undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

Despite those differences, Russia has also co-operated with the alliance in suppressing piracy off the Somali coastline and in such areas as anti-terrorism, counter-narcotics and search-and-rescues at sea.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 25, 2014

News: VA reform bills stalled by partisan bickering - Plans for a comprehensive Veterans Affairs Department reform bill that appeared all but finished a month ago devolved into partisan bickering and funding fights July 24, casting doubt on the future of a deal.   Business: Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed announce bids on Danish fighter competition; Saab withdraws -...
 
 

News Briefs July 25, 2014

Marines investigate corporal who vanished in Iraq U.S. Marine Corp officers are launching a formal investigation into whether a Lebanese-American Marine deserted his unit in Iraq or later after returning to the United States. A spokesman for the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune said July 24 that Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun is being...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Erin OíShea

U.S. Forces display military might at Farnborough

Air Force photograph by A1C Erin O’Shea Capt. Tom Meyers discusses the F-15E Strike Eagle’s capabilities with spectators July 17, 2014, at the Farnborough International Airshow in England. Public access was granted ...
 

 
raptors4

Raptors, Falcons fuel up in desert skies

Three U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, Fairchild AFB, Wash., during Red Flag 14-3, Ju...
 
 
lm-kmax

Lockheed Martin’s unmanned cargo helicopter team returns from deployment

After lifting more than 4.5 million pounds of cargo and conducting thousands of delivery missions for the U.S. Marine Corps, the Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace Corporation K-MAX cargo unmanned aircraft system has returned ...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler

Sun sets on Red Flag 14-3

Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler The sun sets behind a row of F-16 Fighting Falcons during Red Flag 14-3, July 16, 2014, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Red Flag provides a series of intense air-to-air combat scenario...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>