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October 27, 2010 (KATAKAMI / RIA NOVOSTI) — Russia’s envoy to NATO on Wednesday dismissed reports that Russian troops could be sent back to Afghanistan two decades after the Soviet Union’s Red Army was forced out by U.S.-backed mujahedeen.
“We’ve already been in Afghanistan and we didn’t like it much,” Dmitry Rogozin told RIA Novosti.
The UK newspaper The Guardian said on Tuesday the proposal was on the table ahead of a landmark Russia-NATO summit in Lisbon next month.
The paper said Moscow and Brussels were discussing joint initiatives including “the contribution of Russian helicopters and crews to train Afghan pilots, possible Russian assistance in training Afghan national security forces, increased co-operation on counter-narcotics and border security, and improved transit and supply routes for NATO forces.”
“Maybe someone wants Russia to supply cannon fodder to Afghanistan,” Rogozin went on.
The Soviet Union was involved in a bitter decade-long conflict in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. A million Afghan civilians and fighters are estimated to have lost their lives during the fighting. Some 15,000 Soviet soldiers also perished, and the return of Russian soldiers to the country would also be extremely unpopular in Russia.
The war had a profound impact on the Soviet Union, and has been cited as one of the key factors in the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Rogozin also said that Russia-NATO cooperation in Afghanistan consisted of training for Afghan and Pakistan police involved in the fight against drugs, transit and “the implementation of the so-called helicopter package.”
Russian crews will train Afghan pilots, but not in Afghanistan, Rogozin said. He also said that the issue of improved transit arrangements “has never been raised.”
BRUSSELS, October 27 (RIA Novosti)