Russia may suspend support to NATO’s Afghanistan operations

September 4th, 2008 - 6:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Brussels, Sep 4 (RIA Novosti) Russia’s envoy to the NATO has said that Moscow may suspend cooperation with the military alliance on Afghanistan over the recent Georgia crisis. Speaking at a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels late Wednesday, ambassador Dmitry Rogozin said, “Future cooperation (in Afghanistan) will depend on the alliance’s position in the Caucasus crisis”.

“We are not satisfied either with NATO’s words or actions,” he said.

Russia has already suspended all peacekeeping operations with NATO for at least six months and has frozen its participation in NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme.

Rogozin said that Moscow so far had decided to continue supporting NATO operations in Afghanistan only because Russia was concerned by the worsening military and political situation in the country amid a rise in extremism and drug production.

Moscow had earlier agreed to allow non-lethal goods for NATO troops in Afghanistan to pass through Russian territory.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed decrees last week recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, saying the move was necessary to protect the republics from Georgian acts of aggression following Tbilisi’s Aug 8 military offensive in South Ossetia.

NATO subsequently urged Russia to reverse its decision and respect Georgia’s territorial integrity. Moscow blamed Western powers for encouraging Tbilisi’s aggression and criticized the alliance for building up forces in the Black Sea and helping Georgia rebuild its defences in the conflict zone.

Since the Taliban regime was overthrown in the 2001 US-led campaign, Afghanistan has become the world’s leading producer of heroin.

The narcotics trade has become an acute problem for Russia and the Central Asian republics due to a continual flow of illegal drugs from Afghanistan.

“We do not see any success (in NATO operations) but only a degradation of the situation in Afghanistan, and that is why Russia decided to maintain its cooperation with NATO in this area,” he said.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has about 53,000 troops in the country under a UN mandate to give security support to the Afghan government.

However, despite international efforts, the Taliban has stepped up its activities in recent months.

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