NATO called on Russia and China to help finance Afghanistan’s security forces in order to prevent instability near their own borders as the U.S.-dominated military coalition winds down its Afghan campaign.
In an echo of Europe’s bid for international aid to fight the euro debt crisis, the alliance made a global plea to help meet a target of $4 billion annually to train and equip Afghan soldiers and police after the allied mission ends.
“We would welcome financial contributions from Russia, China and other countries to ensure a strong, sustainable Afghan security force beyond 2014,” Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in Brussels today after a two-day meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organization foreign and defense ministers.
Financing the standalone Afghan force has taken on greater urgency as Western allies pull back the current 129,000-strong foreign contingent after more than a decade of warfare in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. A rump force will stay after 2014 to assist the Afghans.
Rasmussen made the aid appeal to parry a request by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for regular participation by Russia in planning sessions of the 50-nation NATO-led force. While Russia hasn’t sent soldiers to Afghanistan, a country it occupied in the 1980s, it has opened supply routes for NATO.
Lavrov, who met allied officials including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today, called for the Russian involvement after NATO invited a Russian representative to attend the Afghanistan session at an alliance summit in Chicago next month.
Lavrov criticized what he termed NATO’s “unclear planning” and “artificial withdrawal timelines” from Afghanistan, and said Russia hasn’t made its mind up whether to send someone to Chicago. Both sides ruled out the attendance of Vladimir Putin, soon to be re-installed as Russia’s president, for scheduling reasons.