In a story reported by Russia Today on March 28, Sergey Koshelev, identified as head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s department of international cooperation, said that his ministry will soon begin discussions with NATO representatives to seek an arrangement allowing Russia to establish new bases in Afghanistan to repair military hardware.
“We will look into various options of creating repair bases on Afghan territory,” Koshelev told the press.
RT cited Koshelev’s statement that the maintenance of weapons and military hardware in Afghanistan remains a top priority, opining that any instability in the country would affect Russia’s own security, as well as the security of other European nations. The report continued:
Russian NATO envoy Aleksandr Grushko also said that Moscow was not excluding the possibility of broader cooperation with the military bloc. In particular, Russia could offer to enlarge the transport corridor to Afghanistan, so that the country’s own forces could continue to receive supplies from Western allies after coalition troops leave Afghanistan in 2014.
The report also quoted Russian State Duma Defense Committee First Deputy Chairman Sergei Zhigarev (roughly the equivalent of the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services). Zhigarev said in a statement to RSN radio:
In any case this [Russia-NATO cooperation] is a positive moment. The coalition was breaking there for 13 years. We remember very well the situation our troops found themselves in at the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border. This is why the stabilization in Afghanistan is very important for us.
RT also cited a recent statement from former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that Afghan forces are currently providing security across three-quarters of the country’s territory.
Panetta stressed, however, that the withdrawal of U.S. military forces did not mean that Americans were leaving Afghanistan completely, and that the United States would continue to provide aid and training to the Afghanistan’s government and military forces.
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