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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees 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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More