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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.