A Russian Role In Post-War Afghanistan?
The Hill has an interesting report today that Russians are likely to be returning to Afghanistan after American forces leave, although not in the same capacity as when they were there in the 1980s:
Nearly a quarter-century after the last Soviet units pulled out of Afghanistan, Moscow is reportedly eyeing a return to the country after U.S. and allied forces officially end combat operations in the country next year.
Russian defense officials are in negotiations with NATO to create a network of military bases in Afghanistan after the 2014 American withdrawal, according to recent news reports.
The Russian bases will be designed as repair and supply outposts for Afghan National Security Forces once those units take over security operations from departing American and NATO troops, Sergey Koshelev, head of the international cooperation directorate in the Russian defense ministry, said Thursday.
“We will look into various options of creating repair bases on Afghan territory,” Koshelev told reporters, noting the supply bases could be the first step in increasing Moscow’s presence within the alliance’s postwar force.
One expansion option, according to Russian NATO envoy Aleksandr Grushko, would be to use the country’s military to expand supply lines from Russia into Afghanistan via routes in the South Caucasus states bordering Iran and Afghanistan.
Currently, the major supply lines available to withdrawing American and allied forces run through land routes in Pakistan, toward the country’s port city of Karachi.
The new Russian supply lines through places like Turkmenistan and Tajikistan would mostly support Moscow’s proposed military bases, but could also be used by NATO members to support their postwar force.
Russia is also planning to invest nearly $1 billion in Afghanistan to develop its electricity capacity and build out other infrastructure, according to a 2012 congressional report on postwar Afghanistan.
As part of that effort, Russia will resume work on “Soviet occupation-era projects” left incomplete when the Red Army left Afghanistan in the late 1980s, the report adds.
One wonders how the Afghans feel about this.