WASHINGTON – Russia intends to return to Afghanistan, sort of, after the pullout in December 2014 of the troops of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But that could result in a form of “mission creep” that could get the Kremlin bogged down there once again, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Sources say that Russia wants to set up repair facilities in Afghanistan to maintain the Afghan military’s equipment, much of which is Russian. This would include small arms, armored personnel carriers and helicopters.
“We will look into various options of creating repair bases on Afghan territory,” said Sergey Koshelev, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry’s department of international cooperation.
The repair bases will be involved in maintenance of weapons and military hardware. However, Koshelev indicated that such a presence was to help avoid any instability in the country which would affect Russia’s own security “as well as the security of other European nations.”
It is no secret that Russia has wanted NATO troops, especially from the United States, out of Afghanistan, considering the area to be in its sphere of influence.
Yet, Moscow also appears to want to work cooperatively with NATO in Afghanistan until it leaves, including any NATO presence once combat troops have been removed.
Moscow even is offering to enlarge the transport corridor to Afghanistan to allow Afghanistan’s own forces to receive supplies from Western allies once coalition troops leave Afghanistan. Moscow’s seeming reluctance for U.S. presence is sweetened by the prospect of making tens of millions of dollars.
Russia is allowing suppliers for NATO forces to use its territory to ship equipment in and out of Afghanistan. At the same time, Moscow would be eager for U.S. military forces to leave at the soonest.
In reflecting on how the U.S. “has lost interest” in Iraq after pulling out and now it quickly is heading for a civil war, Vadim Kozyulin of the PIR Center, a leading Moscow security think-tank, said the same process may happen in Afghanistan.
“The U.S. effort in Afghanistan is about to end,” he said. “It’s time for Russia to design a new effort, which means we have to take a share of responsibility on ourselves.
“We’re already playing the role of political and military leader in Central Asia. Even though President Vladimir Putin previously said we won’t send Russian specialists to Afghanistan, the Russian military now says we might create enterprises on Afghan territory to service military equipment,” he said. “The situation is changing.”
The Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan for 10 years and lost 15,000 troops, with an additional 50,000 wounded.
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