NATO wants free Russian oil, gas to boost Afghanistan invasion
NATO wanted Russia to give oil, rifles and gas to NATO to boost Afghan invasion, senior diplomats said ahead of Rasmussen's visit to Moscow.
NATO wanted Russia to give oil, rifles and gas to NATO for Afghanistan invasion, some senior diplomats said on Friday, days before the military alliance's chief visits Moscow.
"There's a lot more they could do," one envoy said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They could send AK-47s (assault rifles). There's oil and there's gas. And they could be giving these things, not selling them (to NATO)."
Russia has allowed the transit of NATO supplies, cooperates in the fight against drugs, and has offered to supply Afghan forces with weapons and to upgrade hardware such as helicopters.
Another senior NATO diplomat said Moscow's position seemed "ambiguous".
Moscow could see an advantage if NATO was bogged down in Afghanistan and less able to exert influence elsewhere, he said.
Afghanistan is expected to be on top of NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen's agenda in Moscow next week, his first trip there since he took over as head of the 28-nation alliance in August.
The former Soviet Union fought for 10 years against U.S.-backed Islamist fighters in Afghanistan before pulling out in 1989, at a cost of at least 14,000 Soviet dead.
NATO-Russia ties have warmed since a freeze after Russia's brief war with Georgia in August 2008. Moscow has since held out the prospect of more help for NATO's Afghan operation.
Most fuel for NATO in Afghanistan transits Russia, but Moscow is offering its "offer" at a price, NATO officials said.
Equipment, including Russian assault rifles, would be especially useful, they said.
However, one envoy said it remained to be seen what new commitments Rasmussen would secure from talks with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladmir Putin.
Reuters Last Mod: 12 Aralık 2009, 12:05