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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs