Afghanistan post-2014: what's Russia's view?

Russia's interest in what happens in Afghanistan and Central Asia is well known. What isn't is how they see their involvement in the region after 2014, after the ISAF operation in Afghanistan ends. NATO Review asks what the Russian approach will be and what issues are of most interest to them.

Full video transcript

Afghanistan post-2014:

what’s Russia’s view?

As the NATO-led ISAF combat

operation in Afghanistan

winds down at the end of 2014,

Russia is more than a disinterested

observer of what happens next.

Its outlook may still be coloured by

its own nine-year war in the country,

which left

nearly 15,000 soldiers dead.

Strange as it may seem,

some Russian politicians

feel an element of Schadenfreude

at the failure by NATO and the USA.

And they're trying to justify their own

mistakes of almost thirty years ago.

Don’t forget

that the generation now in power

are people who served in Afghanistan

and passed through Afghanistan.

Although its security is linked

to what happens in Afghanistan

and the Central Asian region,

Russia has sometimes

been unclear whether it feels

its security is improved or impaired

by NATO’s presence in Afghanistan.

Russians used to actually

be almost at the same time

against US-NATO

presence in Afghanistan,

but on the other hand

they were highly critical about the,

as they called it, hastily withdrawal

of NATO troops from Afghanistan.

But Russia knows that a lot

of security issues in the region

still need to be addressed.

They understand that

if the Afghan crisis is not resolved,

if the terrorist underground,

the Islamist underground

in the border area is not eliminated,

it will be impossible

to guarantee its security

and its interests in Central Asia.

What Russia doesn’t seem to want,

is major security changes

in the area that it can’t influence.

But these

have already been happening

and not just

through NATO’s activities.

The Russians are afraid

that the Western

withdrawal from Afghanistan

would mean mostly

a shifting of the military presence

of the US and NATO

towards Central Asia.

And that is kind

of a nightmare scenario for them

because they feel vulnerable

and they feel

that they are threatened politically

and on security terms

by both the Western presence

and by the Chinese economic

strong engagement in Central Asia.

So what are Russia’s concerns

about post-2014

Afghanistan and Central Asia?

Who better to ask

than Russia’s ambassador to NATO,

Alexander Grushko?

We are very concerned

about the future of Afghanistan,

both in terms of terrorist threats,

threats of extremism, drug trafficking,

and, you know, that situation

is becoming real catastrophic.

Both the production...

heroin production is increasing.

And the international community

should be more robust

in dealing with this threat

because this is our common interest.

Europe is suffering from that.

Russia suffers very much.

Central Asian countries

suffer very much.

Some analysts say

that a new situation in Central Asia

may require new thinking.

And this may mean

NATO revisiting

relations with the CSTO

or Collective Security

Treaty Organisation,

whose members

include not just Russia,

but also several

Central Asian republics.

I personally think that NATO should

be prepared to revisit its attitude

about the Collective

Security Treaty Organisation.

I’m not sure it’s harmful to NATO

to have some kind of a relationship

with the CSTO

because it’s not just Russia.

There are a number

of other players involved here,

who have... who are going

to be affected very directly,

much more directly and significantly

than any NATO member state

after NATO’s

withdrawal from Afghanistan.

A bigger role for the CSTO is

what Russia’s been pushing for too.

It believes that NATO and the CSTO

working together in Central Asia,

would be a win-win scenario.

Russia is trying to convince our

partners in the NATO-Russia Council

to look

at the possibilities of cooperation

between the CSTO and NATO.

The CSTO is playing

a very important role

in stabilising

the situation around Afghanistan.

NATO is inside Afghanistan.

And if we have

a channel of communications,

if we have certain

partners of cooperation,

it could lead to multiplying

the efficiency of our joint efforts,

be it drug trafficking, be it terrorism,

be it security assessment...

Afghanistan post-2014:

what’s Russia’s view?

As the NATO-led ISAF combat

operation in Afghanistan

winds down at the end of 2014,

Russia is more than a disinterested

observer of what happens next.

Its outlook may still be coloured by

its own nine-year war in the country,

which left

nearly 15,000 soldiers dead.

Strange as it may seem,

some Russian politicians

feel an element of Schadenfreude

at the failure by NATO and the USA.

And they're trying to justify their own

mistakes of almost thirty years ago.

Don’t forget

that the generation now in power

are people who served in Afghanistan

and passed through Afghanistan.

Although its security is linked

to what happens in Afghanistan

and the Central Asian region,

Russia has sometimes

been unclear whether it feels

its security is improved or impaired

by NATO’s presence in Afghanistan.

Russians used to actually

be almost at the same time

against US-NATO

presence in Afghanistan,

but on the other hand

they were highly critical about the,

as they called it, hastily withdrawal

of NATO troops from Afghanistan.

But Russia knows that a lot

of security issues in the region

still need to be addressed.

They understand that

if the Afghan crisis is not resolved,

if the terrorist underground,

the Islamist underground

in the border area is not eliminated,

it will be impossible

to guarantee its security

and its interests in Central Asia.

What Russia doesn’t seem to want,

is major security changes

in the area that it can’t influence.

But these

have already been happening

and not just

through NATO’s activities.

The Russians are afraid

that the Western

withdrawal from Afghanistan

would mean mostly

a shifting of the military presence

of the US and NATO

towards Central Asia.

And that is kind

of a nightmare scenario for them

because they feel vulnerable

and they feel

that they are threatened politically

and on security terms

by both the Western presence

and by the Chinese economic

strong engagement in Central Asia.

So what are Russia’s concerns

about post-2014

Afghanistan and Central Asia?

Who better to ask

than Russia’s ambassador to NATO,

Alexander Grushko?

We are very concerned

about the future of Afghanistan,

both in terms of terrorist threats,

threats of extremism, drug trafficking,

and, you know, that situation

is becoming real catastrophic.

Both the production...

heroin production is increasing.

And the international community

should be more robust

in dealing with this threat

because this is our common interest.

Europe is suffering from that.

Russia suffers very much.

Central Asian countries

suffer very much.

Some analysts say

that a new situation in Central Asia

may require new thinking.

And this may mean

NATO revisiting

relations with the CSTO

or Collective Security

Treaty Organisation,

whose members

include not just Russia,

but also several

Central Asian republics.

I personally think that NATO should

be prepared to revisit its attitude

about the Collective

Security Treaty Organisation.

I’m not sure it’s harmful to NATO

to have some kind of a relationship

with the CSTO

because it’s not just Russia.

There are a number

of other players involved here,

who have... who are going

to be affected very directly,

much more directly and significantly

than any NATO member state

after NATO’s

withdrawal from Afghanistan.

A bigger role for the CSTO is

what Russia’s been pushing for too.

It believes that NATO and the CSTO

working together in Central Asia,

would be a win-win scenario.

Russia is trying to convince our

partners in the NATO-Russia Council

to look

at the possibilities of cooperation

between the CSTO and NATO.

The CSTO is playing

a very important role

in stabilising

the situation around Afghanistan.

NATO is inside Afghanistan.

And if we have

a channel of communications,

if we have certain

partners of cooperation,

it could lead to multiplying

the efficiency of our joint efforts,

be it drug trafficking, be it terrorism,

be it security assessment...

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