Russia’s Afghanistan strategy

In the run-up to the November 19 Lisbon NATO-Russia summit, an article in the latest issue of Newsweek looks at the ways in which Russia is currently drawing advantage from the Western powers’ difficulties in Afghanistan. These difficulties are highlighted by the impending major defence cuts in the UK and other European states, and by Russia’s projected 140% increase in military spending over the next three years. In particular, the article considers the possibility of a trade-off between Western security needs in the Afghan conflict and Russia’s plans for Eastern Europe, still seen by Moscow as a legitimate sphere of military and political influence. Excerpt:

In return for cooperation in Afghanistan, Moscow is asking for substantial concessions from NATO. A draft agreement on NATO-Russian cooperation penned by the Kremlin and released last December includes proposed restrictions on NATO deployment of any force bigger than a 3,000-strong brigade in the combined territory of all former Soviet bloc members. Russia is also demanding that NATO not attempt to station more than 24 aircraft in Eastern Europe for more than 42 days a year. Most controversially, Russia also has demanded veto power on any Western military deployments of large additional forces anywhere in Central Europe, the Balkans, or the Baltics. To top off the wish list, the Kremlin wants limits lifted on Russian troops in the breakaway enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Hat tip: Wiseman

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