Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nato's Afghan endgame begins with a helping hand from Russia

A formal deal with Russia was always likely to be explored by the Western military alliance

Leading Article
The Independent

"The Great Game reasserts itself. Dmitry Medvedev will attend Nato's summit in Lisbon next month, where the Russian President is expected to provide help for the Western military alliance's faltering mission in Afghanistan.

There is little prospect of Russia sending troops to the country, but this is, nevertheless, a remarkable turn of events. Two decades after the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan, after a disastrous 10-year occupation which left 15,000 Russian troops dead, Moscow is coming back.....

The plan does not come from out of the blue. Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, outlined a potential deal last month, in which Russia would help to stabilise Afghanistan. And Moscow already permits the transit of certain supplies across Russian territory. An agreement is also in place allowing Nato planes to pass through Russian airspace. With Nato's land supply routes through Pakistan under increasing pressure, the logic has long been closer co-operation with Moscow.

A formal deal with Russia was always likely to be explored. For Nato, this partnership with the old enemy makes sense....."

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