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Russia ready to cooperate with US on Afghanistan


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What the article conspicuously leaves out, of course, is what price Russia exacted for its "cooperation".

Any guesses?

I'd guess at not all that much - the US has to protect its supply into Afghanistan, which means they'll have to provide some sort of active security presence through Russia's troubled south. Russia gets the US to fight it's homegrown insurgency problem, first dibs on easily obtainable intelligence on US kit and method, and a forced co-operation between the respective militaries. The US, of course, understands all of this, but now has no option. Putin has kept this possibility open since the beginning of the Afghanistan campaign: he's a realist enough to appreciate the advantages accruing to both nations. He had the misfortune to run into an unimaginative and backward thinking US military command (at the very top, anyway).

It remains to be seen whether the funny buggers on both sides can be kept out of the mix - there's a fair swag of mistrust to overcome before the operation can begin to run smoothly and a sizable risk of a deterioration in the relationship being the only measurable outcome.

The upside - the Afghanistan campaign goes forward with the establishment of secure trade routes through southern Russia and the opportunity for the Afghan (and other) peoples to benefit from these. The downside - total failure in Afghanistan coupled with a further entrenchment of alienation between the world's two most powerful militaries.

My guess, for what its worth.

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It's always been in Russia's interests to support the mission in Afghanistan, because a Taleban-controlled A-stan is a big threat to Russia. Not far from Chechnya and all the other Caucasus/Central Asian areas within Russia's sphere of interest, which is why it was worth sending troops to in 1979. So far Russia hasn't been thrilled about US military bases in Afghanistan's northern neighbours, but the latter haven't been very keen about US messing with their inner politics either, so there is nothing to lose here.

Notice though that readiness to allow something to happen doesn't mean that the matter has been agreed on. Whether in negotiations there is any political price attached to this remains to be seen, although it would seem more likely that rather than a direct exchange, such a deal would be added as a political bargain chip in any later disagreement with US/NATO, whether that be over Kosovo, Ukraine, Georgia or missile shield.

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I'd guess at not all that much - the US has to protect its supply into Afghanistan, which means they'll have to provide some sort of active security presence through Russia's troubled south. Russia gets the US to fight it's homegrown insurgency problem, first dibs on easily obtainable intelligence on US kit and method, and a forced co-operation between the respective militaries.

Sure, Russians are going to let US soldiers run armed convoys in Russia... over their dead bodies. :P More likely it will be something like in Pakistan, but the situation in Russia is under far better control than in Pakistan (the route to Afghanistan wouldn't go near the troubled Caucasus regions).


Hey, I wonder when China is going to make their offer? A "direct" route from China to Afghanistan! :D

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I should have looked at a map. But Chechnya still simmers, doesn't it? And the costs of an extended supply route - from a port or airfield in Russia to Afghanistan - are going to be astronomical. Do you have any detailed maps on road/rail routes Sergei?

Heh, China and Russia putting in competitive bids for US military co-operation - NATO might be able to make a profit on the deal.

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I don't think the Russians are looking for a US win in Afghanistan.

I think the Russians see the Americans as fools for trying where the British and the Soviets failed. No matter what the Russians say, I think it is safe to assume the Russians want the Americans to fail in Afghanistan. Islamic fundamentalism is not the internal threat to Russia that some in the West might make it out to be - as we have seen in Chechnya, if the Christians are willing to kill and murder and use terror and secret police, the Christians are quite capable of pacifying even a very obsetreperous Islamic insurgency.

Since the size of Afghanistan and the rules by which the Americans fight make Christian-inflicted terror impossible in Afghanistan, the Russians see the US effort in Afghanistan as doomed to fail. But, and here is the critical bit, the Kremlin is perfectly happy to see that process take a long time, the better to distract the Americans.

I think the Russians see continued supply to US forces in Afghanistan, as a terrific way to keep US forces tied down in Afghanistan. Further, if the US is dependant on Russia for supply to its war in Afghanistan then

- Russia gets to use continuation of that supply as a bargaining chip in every other negotiation it has with the US, every time they negotiate.

- Russia has an automatic response every time the US even thinks about complaining the Russians oppress their own Moslems, Chechens particularly, along the lines of "How dare you call us Russians violators of human rights, when we support your operations in Afghanistan?"

- Russia has an almost mind-boggling number of ways it can choke off the supply (customs problems, suddenly bad roads, drivers' strikes, unexpected changes to insurance law, vehicle registration goofiness, the list is pretty much infinate) to US forces any time the Kremlin chooses, and have deniability. You know, "It not Russia's fault the Tadjik border troops are holding up semis going from Tashkent to Kabul." By the time a faked problem got sorted out, you could run through a campaign season.

- Every truck travelling on the Russia route is jacking up US supply costs, and making money for Russian transport companies in the bargain. It is pretty much a classic case of Russian politics to finagle things so that the Western enemy is digging his own grave (in this case, staying stuck in Afghanistan) and paying Russia to help him do it. One can only imagine how much they giggled about that one in the Kremlin, but guarantee they thought the idea was just funny and brilliant.

- Since it is a foregone conclusion the Americans do not I repeat do not have any of their own people on the ground along the logistics route, it is just as foregone a conclusion that a significant chunk if not most or even almost all of the freight forwarders, longshoremen, stevedores, drivers, and armed security will one way or another be employed by the FSB, or Russia's version of the KGB. Again, the irony is so rich as to be funny: The Americans will pay the Russian secret service to create a transportation network, and then pay Russian secret agents to provide the Kremlin detailed knowledge of how that network operates and what it is carrying.

The bottom line here is that a land supply route through Russia to Afghanistan from a logistics point of view is close to ridiculous. I would assume the basic route would be landing shipping containers in the Kuban, and then railing to Tashkent and onward by truck. This is a drive from the Black Sea through the whole of Central Asia, through some of the most authoritarian or unstable countries in the world, and not a one of them has a proper market economy. The transport cost via this route would be factors more than going through Islamabad and just paying the Afridis and Masuds bribes to cross the Khyber pass. The very fact the Americans are considering it, is not a good sign of how viable the US war effort in Afghanistan is.

So it's pretty much a slam dunk that the Russians are more than happy to help the Americans throw good money after bad, the way I see it.

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Nice one BD6 - so the US would only knowingly enter into this arrangement if they thought they could blame their failure in Afghanistan on the uncooperative Russians?

It's worth noting that Russia did build a logistics route into Afghanistan. Whether it has survived the intervening decades in good condition is another question, though my suspicion is that the Soviet military built stuff to last.

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Russian funded militants perhaps?


Jim R.

Damn those Russians, they did it again!

Taleban fighters have kidnapped 30 Pakistani policemen and troops in the restive Swat valley in the north-west, police say.

Thousands of militants laid siege to the police station, just south of the valley's main town Mingora, on Tuesday.

Troops were mobilised to break the militants' cordon but could not rescue the surrounded policemen and soldiers as darkness fell, officials said.

Swat valley has been the scene of a major battle since Saturday.

The clash is the latest in an operation against an increasingly powerful Taleban insurgency in the valley.


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