The East has again become near
Russia will again have to resolve security issues after the Americans leave.
The UN Security Council can discuss the situation in Afghanistan by the end of this week. On Tuesday, the UN Security Council has already adopted a statement, demanding that all parties reduce the level of violence in the country.
The situation in Afghanistan shows who and what it deserves. In April, US President Joe Biden announced a decision to end the operation in Afghanistan, which became the longest foreign military campaign in American history. After the hasty evacuation of Pentagon units, the Taliban movement (banned in the Russian Federation) quickly took control of the country's areas along the borders with Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, China and Pakistan, The Moscow Post correspondent reports.
Washington belatedly "fears" that Afghanistan was on the verge of civil war. At the same time, the Taliban field commander (banned in the Russian Federation), Mavlavi Talib, who today leads the army of militants, was released under Western pressure last year. Ten days as Pakistan sent an army to the Afghan border to stop the infiltration of military, militants, refugees. At the same time, the government said that in case of aggravation, it uses the "Iranian model" of keeping "guests" in settlements near the border.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan met with Donald Trump in 2019, recently held consultations with representatives of Joe Biden. In late July, in an interview with PBS NewsHour, he criticized the United States, saying that Washington had unsuccessfully tried to find a military solution in relations with the Taliban (a movement banned in the Russian Federation). When I realized that there was no such thing, the possibility of stabilization on American terms was already lost.
Americans paid for everything
The regional terrorist threat is growing, despite the fact that by 2019 only Washington "invested" in Afghanistan according to the US Department of Defense 778 billion dollars, not counting the cost of military assistance to Pakistan. Another $44 billion was spent on reconstruction projects. At the peak of the military presence, annual expenditures in Afghanistan amounted to about $100 billion per year. In 2016-20, they fell to the level of 38-40 billion dollars a year.
According to American Brown University, the American Congress allocated about one trillion dollars to the war, not including "associated costs." With that in mind, the cost of a presence in Afghanistan could be doubled. According to estimates, by 2019, about $15.5 billion were stolen and looted.
Official Afghanistan during the military presence of the Western coalition and financial "generosity" of the United States is used to large-scale injections. Washington spent about $137 billion on reconstruction projects, including $86 billion aimed at creating the Afghan National Army, police, and security forces. Measures were paid to strengthen the state apparatus and infrastructure,
the fight against drugs. According to the UN, the area of opium poppy planting peaked in 2017, despite the fact that the United States spent about $1.5 million a day to combat plantations. Expenditures for these purposes have exceeded $9 billion since 2002.
Who will pay now?
Given even a small part of the surviving material resources, the remnants of weapons, vehicles, the Taliban militants (the movement banned in the Russian Federation) have something to fight for. Afghanistan's threat to neighbouring countries has increased. Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for Afghanistan, Director of the Second Department of Asia of the Russian Foreign Ministry Zamir Kabulov said that Pakistan could be destabilizing by events in Afghanistan.
Russia, as a leading CSTO country, with experience in stabilizing Syria, is taking measures to ensure the security of the borders of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, as well as Uzbekistan. According to the military, confusion and chaos in Afghanistan can lead to an aggravation of the situation in Central Asia. Fighters from Syria, Libya and Iraq may appear on the borders of the CIS. The load will fall on the Russian base in Tajikistan.
How it all started
Russia's recent history of relations with Afghanistan and Pakistan includes a four-way meeting in September 2011 in Dushanbe, then-President Dmitry Medvedev with the presidents of the three countries. Then, the Joint Statement discussed the preparation of the Roadmap for long-term cooperation, welcomed the process of transferring security responsibility to the Afghan armed forces. Reference was made to the elimination of terrorism, extremism and cross-border crime. The role and presence of the United States in Afghanistan were not mentioned, the coalition was mentioned.
The world was different. The transit of American military cargo to Afghanistan through the territory of Russia was allowed. The United States also used the Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan for transit, and looked closely at the Turkmen air base Mara-2. A German army transshipment point was created at Termez Airport. China has strengthened its position as America's leading economic partner. Pakistan was the target of military assistance from Washington.
Today, all that remains of these efforts is the desire of the United States to hold a meeting of the "expanded troika" (Russia, USA, China, Pakistan). The Russian Foreign Ministry believes that such a meeting could be held in August in Doha.
Lavrov is looking for partners
Moscow understood that the Afghan situation was fraught with a crisis and an increase in the terrorist threat on the borders of the CIS. Sergey Lavrov visited Pakistan in April, for the first time since 2012. Special attention on the agenda of the visit was paid to Afghan issues, interaction at multilateral platforms, the pandemic and the Sputnik V vaccine, and issues of countering terrorism.
Pakistan became a full member of the SCO back in 2017, which expanded the field for consultations on the Afghan settlement, including the capabilities of the Moscow format, the SCO-Afghanistan contact group. The steps taken by India and Pakistan to normalize bilateral relations were welcomed. Sergey Lavrov also mentioned the practice of joint tactical exercises in the mountain conditions of Druzhba, naval exercises to combat terrorism and piracy, the Arabian Monsoon.
Moscow is still ready to help strengthen the anti-terrorist potential of Pakistan, to supply appropriate equipment. As Kabulov noted, the interests of Pakistan, the Russian Federation and neighboring countries in issues of Afghan settlement coincide. For Russia and the Central Asian CIS countries, Pakistan is becoming a partner. The United States does not exclude the possibility of "observing" Afghanistan from Pakistan.
More export, invest
Russia in Pakistan also has economic interests. Earlier, a metallurgical plant was built in Karachi. Prospects for the reconstruction of the energy network and railways are being discussed. Pakistan is interested in supplying civilian aircraft, bought helicopters to combat gangs. Cooperation in the use of nuclear technologies in medicine and industry is possible. There is interest in the supply of Russian liquefied natural gas. But while the volume of bilateral trade is only $790 million, it is growing due to the supply of wheat.
Pakistan returned the debts of the Soviet period and is interested in a gas pipeline project from the port of Karachi to Lahore. The Pakistan Stream project is needed in order to strengthen energy security and provide electricity to industry. A gas pipeline with a capacity of 12.4 billion cubic meters and a length of 1,100 kilometers will connect LNG terminals in the south with power plants and industrial gas consumers in the north of the country.
In 2015, Russia and Pakistan signed an intergovernmental agreement. Russia will receive a share of 26% in the project. Among the shareholders are the Eurasian Pipeline Consortium and TMK. The Pakistani side will have a controlling stake. The project cost will be about $2.5 billion. Russian investors are responsible for the construction of the gas pipeline, Pakistani investors are responsible for the purchase of LNG and the construction of the terminal.
Interests of India
The rapprochement between Moscow and Islamabad caused dissatisfaction with Delhi, although the parties take part in the SCO, anti-terrorist exercises in the Russian Federation included Pakistani and Indian military. Moscow at a conference in Tashkent in 1966 played the role of an intermediary in relations between the two countries. But India remains the main opponent of Pakistan, which has become a military-political ally of the PRC.
Islamabad's close ties with Beijing, as well as the reconstruction of the port of Gwadar and the construction of roads from China to this port through Pakistan (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, CPEC) affect the territory of Kashmir and the interests of India. This further complicates relations in the region, affecting the interests of Iran, the UAE, Qatar. The port enters the Arabian Sea in southwestern Pakistan, is one of the most significant parts of the Chinese project "One Belt, One Way" and can compete with the port of Dubai (Jebel Ali), which is the largest port in the Middle East.
It is expected that in this regional-global cash carousel, too, the account will go to tens, if not hundreds of billions of dollars. But for now, everyone cares about the risk of terrorist threats from the "orphaned" Afghanistan. Islamabad views relations with Moscow as a guarantee of stability. This was stated on Thursday by Pakistan's ambassador to Moscow, Shawkat Ali Khan. Moscow is also counting on Islamabad's constructive role.