News / Asia

Three Questions: Russia, NATO and Afghanistan

A man walks by a logo printed on a wall inside the NATO summit venue in Lisbon, Portugal on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010. Heads of State of NATO member countries gather for a two day summit beginning on Friday, and will discuss such topics as Afghanistan and m
A man walks by a logo printed on a wall inside the NATO summit venue in Lisbon, Portugal on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010. Heads of State of NATO member countries gather for a two day summit beginning on Friday, and will discuss such topics as Afghanistan and m
Ira Mellman

Kurt Volker, former US Ambassador to NATO and now the Managing Director and Senior Fellow of the Center for Transatlantic Relations for the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies says there has been a change in Russia's attitude toward a number of NATO related issues, including a willingness to help NATO and US forces in their battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan. In fact, Russian President Dmitry Mevedev is scheduled to speak to the NATO summit meeting in Lisbon.

Volker said it was in Russia's interest. He said Russia was quite happy to see NATO and the US taking on a problem that exists on Russia's southern flank. That includes violent extremism, the possibility of terrorist groups. So, says Volker, it's in Russia's interest to support the logistics flow to Afghanistan.

One cannot think that the Afghanis are overjoyed about this.

I think what the Afghanis would be very concerned about would be a visible Russian presence on the ground in Afghanistan. They have very clear memories of the role Soviet troops played in their country twenty some years ago. That said, what we’re talking about here mostly is transits for Afghanistan, Russia allowing NATO to provide both rail cars and over flights to get to Afghanistan. That sort of logistical supply is really a good thing. It’s kind of transparent to the Afghan people, but it adds stability to the operation especially given the attacks on the supply lines in Pakistan.

Could this not been seen, however, with a withdrawal date being set up for NATO and US troops, as an opening for the Russians to return?

I don’t think so. In fact, the withdrawal date people are now talking about, and I shouldn’t say it’s a withdrawal date, it’s really a date for the transition to lead Afghan responsibility. That transition begins in July of 2011, maybe even slightly before, but it’s going to take a very long time with a robust international presence there. President Karzai has set out the date of 2014 when he’d like to see Afghanistan fully in the lead. And NATO and the United States have fully supported his efforts to set that deadline. So that is, I think, President Karzai’s date. Secondly, a longer term and more robust commitment from the international community can’t really be read as an opening or handoff back to Russia.

President Karzai is also scheduled to attend this meeting in Lisbon. How important is the topic of the drawdown at this NATO meeting?

I think it’s important because the expectations were set back in December of last year with President Obama’s speech that withdrawals begin in July 2011. If that is not in fact what we expect to see, there’s not going to be a “head for the doors”, there’s not going to be a mass exodus, but rather a longer term commitment, one that’s aimed at a transition over a longer period of time, 2014 out there is the new date, it’s important to reset those expectations.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs