NATO Says Afghan Projects Among Ties With Russia to Be Suspended

NATO will suspend all day-to-day cooperation with Russia, including on projects in Afghanistan, a senior alliance official said.

Joint training courses for Afghan counter-narcotics officers and helicopter pilots will expire and the alliance will look for other sources of spare parts for the Russian helicopters in use there, the official told reporters in Brussels today on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the security issues being discussed.

The fate of transit routes through Russia to supply allied forces in Afghanistan isn’t clear because those arrangements are handled on a country-by-country basis and not through North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters, the official said.

After foreign ministers decided to suspend contacts with Russia yesterday, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said “Afghanistan-related cooperation projects” would continue “because we have a joint interest in ensuring the success of our mission in Afghanistan.”

Speaking to reporters today, the senior official said NATO will seek to maintain the projects without Russia, using Turkey as a site for counter-narcotics training. Obtaining helicopter spare parts is trickier because they have to be certified by the Russian manufacturers, the official said.

Foreign ministers will review the Russia policy at a meeting in June. For now, the only NATO-Russia contacts will come at the “political” level, via Russia’s ambassador in Brussels or the government in Moscow, the official said.

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