News / Middle East

Forces Removing Equipment From Afghanistan Keep Eye on Russian Route

Fears Russia-NATO Tensions Could Disrupt Afghan Withdrawali
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 01, 2014 2:56 PM
International forces in Afghanistan are working through the mammoth task of shipping most of their vehicles and equipment out of the country, as the December 2014 withdrawal deadline approaches. One of the routes being used transits Russia, and there are fears that the growing confrontation between the West and Moscow over Ukraine could severely disrupt NATO's withdrawal plans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Fears Russia-NATO Tensions Could Disrupt Afghan Withdrawal

Henry Ridgwell
— How to remove millions of tons of equipment from a landlocked country with primitive infrastructure?
 
That’s the challenge facing international military forces in Afghanistan as they work through the mammoth task of shipping most of their vehicles and equipment out of the country as the December 2014 withdrawal deadline approaches.
 
And there are new fears that a key transport route that transits Russia could be shut down.

The so-called Northern Distribution Network connects Afghanistan overland with ports in the Black Sea, and also with Baltic ports via Central Asia, the Caucasus and Russia.

There are fears that NATO’s deteriorating relations with Russia over its actions in Ukraine could lead to Moscow shutting down the route to the Baltic.

Andrew Foxall, of the British-based think-tank the Henry Jackson Society, said Russian President Vladimir Putin may use this tactic.

“In early April NATO halted all collaboration with Russia and there are suggestions over the last few days that NATO’s offices in Moscow will be closed down. So in that sense, I think it’s increasingly likely that Putin will play this card, the ace in the pack effectively that he has, with regards to NATO’s withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Foxall said.

The cost of the U.S. withdrawal alone is estimated at $6 to 7 billion. NATO as a whole has already shipped 86,000 vehicles and containers.

Viable alternative routes have allowed the operation to move ahead of schedule, said retired British Brigadier Ben Barry of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“The other route is the land route over the passes from Pakistan down to Karachi and thence by sea. And in addition, many NATO countries have been flying a lot of their heavy equipment out of Afghanistan, usually to a port in the region,” Barry said.

Barry said there are good reasons why Russia would not want to disrupt the route out of Afghanistan.

“The countries that are doing this are paying good, solid Western cash for this,” he said.

But for Putin, economics often comes second to strategy, Foxall said.

“Russia receives about $1 billion a year from NATO for NATO using Russian territory for transit purposes. But as we’ve seen in Ukraine, in Crimea, I don’t necessarily think that the economic costs are high on Putin’s agenda when he’s making these geopolitical calculations,” he said.

Moscow supported the West after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the fear that Afghanistan could again become an exporter of terrorism unites Russia and the West, Barry said.

“In the inner councils of the Russian government, for example in its National Security Council, there will be voices arguing for making sure that security transition in Afghanistan happens as well as it could do because the last thing Russia needs is more instability on another of its borders,” he added.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
April 30, 2014 6:42 PM
There is no need or urgency to remove the military equipment of the US, NATO and the coalition forces from Afghanistan because: (1) the US will be permitted to retain some military bases in Afghanistan by the new government that takes charge in Afghanistan after the elections, (2) how could US and the coalition partners desert Afghanistan taking away all their military equipment from Afghanistan? (3) The transfer of the military equipments to the country of origin, costs more than the military equipments itself, (4) why don't the coalition forces give the Afghanistan the equipment the coalition forces are trying to take away from Afghan soil, (5) if the coalition forces wish to transfer the military equipment from Afghanistan, the best and cheaper alternative is the transportation of such military equipment through Pakistan and shipping to the respective destinations, and (5) Russia will not dare to close the route of transfer of military equipments from Afghanistan by land route, since one billion dollars is still attractive as transit fees for the Russians, (7) What kind of military training was given to Afghans without the privilege of using modern weapons?, and (6) Afghanistan needs these military equipments to defend itself from the expected surge in the Taliban attacks when the coalition forces leave the country. Are the US and the coalition forces using the withdrawal of military equipments from Afghanistan, to force them to depend on retaining the US forces in Afghanistan? It is better to cancel Russian transit fees for shipment of military equipments through their territory and switch to the Pakistan route as punishment for Russian aggression in Crimea and Ukraine.

In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
April 30, 2014 8:59 PM
Davis, -- I agree with you 100% and if the US really wanted to help the Afghans, they'd do as you say. .... REALLY?


by: a from: asd
April 30, 2014 5:28 PM
$7 billion for our withdrawal alone! How about letting the world go to hell. They can pay for their defense if they want to. The U.S. is no longer able to afford a military to run the world, have fun. Let China pay for it, they have a larger economy than the U.S.

In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
April 30, 2014 8:24 PM
The US spends over 640 billion dollars on defense, and has troops stationed all over the world, and interferes in more armed conflicts than any other country, and defends against numerous enemies, real and imagined...
China on the other hand, spends over 188 billion dollars on it's defense of the Chinese motherland, (wherever that may be?), and doesn't involve itself in anybody else's military conflicts?
The wise man said; - The hundreds of billions of tons of used military equipment would be of more use to the Afghan government and military, and it is already outdated and of no use to the US military now..
IF the US was going to train the Afghan military as promised, they'd gave them modern military equipment, (and the refurbished attack helicopters and outdated refurbished fighter planes, they promised?), instead of the used AK-47s and Toyota pickup trucks they've been providing them with?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid