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Afghanistan: Russia and NATO Near Deal

It appears that a deal is in the works between NATO and the Russian government for greater cooperation in Afghanistan. The deal would allow NATO troops the use of Russian land and airspace, the possible leasing of Russian planes and trains, and Russian training for Afghan helicopter pilots and counter-narcotics assistance at a center in Moscow. At a NATO meeting in Spain last year, then Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov asserted that the country's stability was a "vital, visceral interest' for Russia.

Discussing the potential alliance, NATO spokesman James Appathurai stated; "Discussions are under way. There is no deal done. We are working towards an agreement at the Bucharest Summit [April 2-4]"

The deal would also try to strengthen and solidify cooperation between the two regarding countering Afghan's tremendous narcotics problem. NATO and Russia already work together training Afghan and Central Asian drug enforcement officials, but each side agrees that much more needs to be done.

This deal is not being made in a vacuum however, as the specter of Ukraine and Georgia's possible ascension to NATO's Membership Action Plan (MAP) and the US placement of a missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland are high on everyone's agenda. Putin and Russia have not been shy in voicing their opposition with both of these measures (though there has been some progress concerning the missile defense system). Western diplomats have denied that Russian assistance in Afghanistan was in anyway a trade off to keep Ukraine and Georgia out of NATO, though it does not appear the two nations will be admitted to a MAP at the next NATO meeting in about a month.

Coming up: A discussion of Russia's new President, Dmitry Medvedev, and how his new administration will affect Russia's policy in Central Asia.

 

Author

Patrick Frost

Patrick Frost recently graduated from New York University's Masters Program in Political Science - International Relations. His MA thesis analyzed the capabilities and objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Central Asia and beyond and explored how these affected U.S. interests and policy.

Areas of Focus:
Eurasia, American Foreign Policy, Ideology, SCO

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