AFGHANISTAN: POTENTIAL FIELD OF RUSSIA-U.S. REGIONAL COOPERATION

Yuri MOROZOV


Yuri Morozov, Ph.D. (Military Science), professor at the Academy of Military Sciences, leading research fellow at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies and the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow, Russia)


Introduction

Today cooperation between Russia and the U.S. in Central Asia, as part of the international efforts designed to neutralize the regional threats and challenges, is best described as spontaneous. There are, however, certain spheres in which their cooperation could be wider for the sake of regional stability. Afghanistan, which remains the main source of the destabilization threat, should become the main target of such cooperation.

Both countries need stability in this part of the world; they are united in their desire to cut short radical extremist activities and drug production in this country. In fact, this is a rare example of unanimity related to several points on the long list of international priorities. Their cooperation might even develop, sometime in the future, into a system of regional security concurrent with the interests of both states and the world community. There is hope that these approaches will be discussed, among other issues, at the Moscow Russian-American summit scheduled for July 2009.

American Regional Policy and the Coalitions Strong and Weak Points as Seen from Moscow

Presidents Obama and Medvedev, the newly elected heads of the United States and Russia, told the world that the relations between the leading countries of the security structures (NATO, CSTO, and SCO) operating in Central Asia (and elsewhere) needed to be reset. This will give these countries the opportunity to arrest their slide into another Cold War. In this context Afghanistan is practically the only field in which the interests of both countries related to the key issue of international security coincide.

The still unsettled conflict in Afghanistan and its echo can be described as a major negative factor that undermines regional stability and affects the world community as a whole. So far, stability in Afghanistan is maintained by the U.S.-led counterterrorist coalition based on NATO forces. If squeezed out of Afghanistan, radical Islamist structures will spread across the region. This will upturn the Central Asian states domestic stability.

On the other hand, the Russian Federation and the other CSTO members are not involved in the ISAF military component and have so far limited their cooperation to transit services. This and the other coalitions blunders increased, rather than reduced, the threat of the challenges spreading to Afghanistans neighbors.

The European Union and the SCO are concentrating on economic and humanitarian issues; they are taking great pains to


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