UNITED NATONS, September 21 (Itar-Tass) — Russia has questions concerning NATO’s plans to keep military bases in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from there in 2014, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said at a meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday. He stressed that the further presence of NATO troops in the Central Asian nation would require a decision of the UN Security Council.
“Contradictory statements that foreign troops in 2014 will leave Afghanistan but foreign bases will stay, raise questions. We would like to have full clarity,” the diplomat said. According to him, if, as NATO Command pledges, the anti-terrorist operation by that time will be completed, “then the bases are preserved for some other task that is not linked with Afghanistan.” “If the war on terror needs to be continued, then it will be necessary to have the mandate extended by the Security Council,” he said.
Vitaly Churkin also noted that before authorising the extension of the operation in Afghanistan, the alliance must report to the Security Council on the implementation “of the existing mandate.” “In any case, the military presence should not be used against the interests of Afghanistan’s neighbours and countries of the region,” the Russian ambassador said.
According to Churkin, Russia is interested in seeing Afghanistan as a “peaceful, stable, democratic state” and also seeks to ensure “full neutralisation of the threats linked with terrorism and drug trafficking emanating from its territory.”
In this regard, the Russian diplomat underlined the role of the UN mission in Afghanistan that after the withdrawal of NATO troops “should remain the coordinator of international civilian efforts to promote stabilisation, focusing the activity on the strengthening of Afghan sovereignty and the leading role of Afghans in governing the country.”
The Russian ambassador also expressed concern over the uneasy situation in the sphere of security in Afghanistan. “Terrorists in essence are being forced out to the north from where they penetrate into the territory of Central Asian states. This poses a direct threat to the stability of the region,” stressed the Russian ambassador. He also expressed concern about the wave of terrorist attacks that have swept the country against the background of the gaining momentum withdrawal of foreign troops.