Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Aug. 1 called upon NATO to remain in Afghanistan until it has prevailed over the jihadist insurgency. “It is regrettable that many participants in this operation are thinking about how to pull out of there,” Putin said at a meeting with paratroopers in Ulyanovsk. “They took up this burden and should carry it to the end.. If there is no order in Afghanistan, it will not be calm on our southern borders. The current [Afghan] leadership will have difficulties keeping the situation under control. NATO member states are present there, and are performing this function. We need to help them [NATO]. We should not be fighting there again. Let them sit there and fight.”
Putin spoke just as a new deal took effect opening Russia‘s territory to transit lines in support of the NATO operation, with a hub for “non-lethal” supplies established at Ulyanovsk, on the Volga River. “It corresponds to our national interests,” Putin said of the deal. “On many other issues we have disagreements.” Putin reiterating his description of NATO as a “throwback to the past, to the times of the Cold War.” (Dawn, Pakistan, Aug. 2; Reuters via Moscow Times, Foreign Policy, Aug. 1)
See our last post on the Great Game for Central Asia.