Thursday, March 26, 2009

Some Gravy For Your Bishkeks?

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexei Borodavkin, stated in an interview with Interfax that Russia will not be sending troops to Afghanistan. I didn't even know that this concept was in play, and I'm certainly relieved (as are 30 million Afghans who still haven't quite gotten over the last Russian intervention in Afghanistan) at the Russian announcement.

I do wonder if anyone had asked them for their help.

Borodavkin went on to speak about how ISAF was helping to provide regional stability surrounding Russia's southern border, which I found odd in light of their incursion into Georgia to send a message to any breakaway republics who may consider applying for NATO membership.

More after the jump

Talking about the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, Borodavkin said that, "in the current conditions, these troops in fact remain a force curbing the terrorist threat."

"Their presence at this moment meets both interests of Afghanistan itself, as well as regional and in a wider context international security. Proceeding from this understanding, Russia intends to continue to provide political support to the international forces stationed in Afghanistan under a UN Security Council resolution," he said.

Peace and stability in Afghanistan meet long-term interests of both Russia and the NATO member-states, which make up a majority at the ISAF, he said.

"And vice versa, a failure of the ISAF's operation in Afghanistan and a buildup of the conflict potential near our southern borders would pose a threat to the interests of Russia's national security. This is exactly why we welcome interaction on Afghan affairs within the Russia-NATO Council format," he said.

While acknowledging some benefit to Russia from NATO's presence in Afghanistan, Mr. Borodavkin found it necessary to scold ISAF for civilian casualties.

Moscow views as unacceptable "indiscriminate actions by foreign military contingents inflicting damage on the civilian population," Borodavkin said also.

"Such excesses should be avoided in the future," he said.

Wow, those are strong words coming from a country known for flattening villages suspected of harboring Mujaheddin. Someone should sit this guy down for a viewing of The Beast, the most socially responsible movie ever made by a Baldwin. After that we can have a round table discussion about the responsible use of chemical weapons in a counterinsurgency, followed by a request for another announcement of what Moscow views as unacceptable.

It's not like we shouldn't be more careful in the future, but to hear it from a Russian is like being called a racist by a Klansman.

"As for our possible assistance in the formation of the Afghan Armed Forces, we might consider such requests from the Afghan government," Borodavkin said.. "

And Russian military anything being asked into the country by Afghans will be immediately preceded by the White House proclaiming it "National Hug a Klansman Day." Much of what we found wrong with the ANSF had to do with their Russian training and habits. The Afghans need more Russian "assistance" like they need a bigger opium crop. Speaking of which...

As for international cooperation on Afghanistan, there is a need to coordinate efforts in fighting against drug trafficking, he said.

"It would be useful for NATO to coordinate its efforts in Afghanistan with the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization] in combating drug trafficking along the perimeter of its northern borders," the Russian diplomat said.

"[Drug trafficking] is one of the major Afghan problems, which spills out far beyond its borders, and ignoring it would be short-sighted, to say the least," he said.

"In our view, international military forces must be more active in fighting against drug criminals," Borodavkin said.

Well, if anyone were sure that the Russians wouldn't feed that information directly to the drug cartels, I'm sure that we could work something out. The power of Russian organized crime is not to be underestimated. What Mr. Borodavkin doesn't understand is that we have been allowing Afghan heroin to flood across their borders so that it would be easier for them to catch the fattened rats on their side of the border. So far, so good. Their "drug criminals" are doing fine, addiction rates in Russia are soaring, and the Russians get to call us short-sighted. Great stuff!

He said also that Russia was not against Kabul's contacts with the moderate wing of the Taliban if Kabul sees fit to seek such contacts.

"If the Afghan leadership sees fit to establish contacts with the moderate wing of the Taliban, Russia will not object to this on condition that they lay down their arms, recognize the Afghan constitution and government, and denounce any ties with Al Qaeda," Borodavkin told Interfax.

At the same time, Moscow believes it is important to stick to a clear and principled position with regard to the leaders of terrorist and extremist organizations acting in Afghanistan, Borodavkin said. "We are categorically against any agreements with them," he said.

This is pleasing. I wonder what part of, "No one asked for your approval or conditions!" is hard to understand.

Russian diplomat also told Interfax that so far no applications had been received from NATO member states for the transit of military cargo to Afghanistan via Russia.

I wonder if they ever gave back our humvees they stole off the dock in Georgia. Hmmm. Perhaps we never filed that application. Somebody get a bureaucrat on this issue immediately!

"We have signed a number of bilateral inter-governmental agreements setting out easier terms for military gear and personnel transit to Afghanistan through Russia. Such agreements were signed with Germany, France and Spain. So far we have not received any application for this type of transportation from these countries," he said.

In April 2008, Russia and NATO also signed an agreement for the transit of non-military cargo to Afghanistan for the alliance forces and its member states, as well as all the countries which sent their troops to the country as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Borodavkin recalled.

"According to the Russian regulations, ISAF's non-military cargo will be transited by Russia as commercial cargo in accordance with international and Russian customs regulations," he said.

"This is a half-hearted attempt on our part to make up for inducing the Kyrgyzstanis to evict the U.S. from Manos Air Base in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan," Mr. Borodavkin went on to say... just kidding, he didn't say that. I wish he would have, but he didn't.

Borodavkin said also that the authorities in Moscow hoped that an upcoming international conference on Afghanistan under the aegis of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will help bring stability to the country.

"The agenda of the conference will focus on searching for more effective ways to jointly counter the terrorist and drug threats. Naturally, its results, which its organizers and participants hope to receive, will objectively contribute to efforts to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan," Borodavkin said.

This is the second half of the July 5, 2005 pronouncement by the SCO that the United States should set a time line to leave Afghanistan.

An action plan outlining a wide variety of specific measures will be announced as well, Borodavkin said. "They include plans to step up the activities of the consultative mechanism of the SCO member-countries' anti-drug agency chiefs and to give it a bigger say, plans to reinforce the legal foundation for cooperation in the combat against the illegal turnover of drugs, and the idea of conducting joint anti-drug operations," the high-ranking diplomat said.

"The results of the conference will be summarized in a declaration, which will reflect the views of all participants in this forum regarding the development and improvement of multilateral cooperation to counter the threats of terrorism, drug trafficking and cross-border crime," he added.

Declaration; good. Cooperation; good. Russians in Afghanistan; just look at the bones, man! So I'd say that this is a win for the Afghans at this point. Russians are apparently like vampires... if someone doesn't invite them in, they won't kill your whole family.

On a serious note, hopefully the conference will provide some framework for cooperation and there is word that the US will be making contact with Iran behind the scenes. That should be an interesting story in itself. Oh, to be a fly on that wall!

However, with the recent encouragement (buyoff) of Kyrgyzstan's decision to remove Manos Air Base from our logistical bag of tricks, it's hard to take Russian pronouncements of goodwill seriously. It's especially hard to accept any scolding from them (the worst, most brutal counterinsurgents in the world) regarding brutality against civilians.


  1. I'm hearing a lot of talk that Obama has agreed to stay away from the former USSR countries in exchange for Russia's assistance in regards to Iran. I also understand that the US military training program to Georgia, seven years old, is going to be terminated, too.

  2. Ohhhh, to have audio for this post would be icing on the cake.

    Just sayin...


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