Putin backs support for NATO operations in Afghanistan

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Vladimir Putin
Moscow, Aug 1: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Moscow would continue to support the NATO military operations in Afghanistan. Putin said at a meeting of Russia's Airborne Troops that Moscow should back the NATO to keep fighting in Afghanistan. "It will serve Russia's interest by maintaining peace on the southern borders," he said.

Smuggling of Afghan heroin into Russian territory through the Central Asian republics, which were parts of the former Soviet Union, has been a concern for the Russian authorities and they have cooperated with NATO in fighting the drug business in Afghanistan for years.

Putin, however, said that Russia would not participate in any military operation against the Talibans and it was the duty of politicians like them to ensure that the Russian Army did not find itself engaged in any tussle.

Moscow has supported NATO ground and air cargo transit both into and out of Afghanistan and agreed to play host to a NATO transit hub in Ulyanovsk to facilitate withdrawal of the foreign forces from the violence-ravaged country by 2014. Besides, Russia has also signed a $367.5-million deal with the US Defence Department last year for 21 Mi-17V5 transport/attack helicopters to cater to the Afghan military.

Expressing concern over the security condition in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of the NATO forces, the Russian President requested the NATO members to finish the mission before pulling out. "If the NATO have a commitment, they should fulfil it," Putin said.

OneIndia News

(With Agency inputs)

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