Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We'll Build If You Pay

Russia's envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin has offered his country's help in rebuilding Afghanistan, so long as someone else picks up the bill. According to the Russian business daily Kommersant, Rogozin said that Russia could assist the Afghans in rebuilding more than 100 structures originally built by Soviet engineers during the Cold War, along with also helping to repair the country's energy and road networks. The Soviet Union provided monetary and technical assistance to Afghanistan for decades during the Cold War; the Soviet invasion in 1979 was meant to prop up Afghanistan's communist government.

But in a twist, Rogozin is saying Russian help today should be paid for not by Russia but by NATO members who cannot send troops to Afghanistan. Even though there is a NATO mission ongoing in Afghanistan to support the government of President Hamid Karzai and fight the Taliban, not every NATO member-nation is actively supporting the effort. No word yet from NATO on Rogozin's offer.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see what (if anything) President Obama says about the United States' involvement in Afghanistan during tonight's State of the Union address. Keep an eye out tomorrow as well for a major speech by President Karzai where he may talk about a reconciliation offer to some members of the Taliban.
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