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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid