America’s new Russian trap in Afghanistan


May 18, 2015


Translated by Kristina Rus

Under the guise of the anti-terrorist hysteria after the attacks of 9/11, America lobbied the UN and as a head of NATO invaded Afghanistan. And there is no end in sight. Withdrawal dates are always put off… meanwhile, the military forces need to be supplied.

Now in Afghanistan there are 13,000 NATO troops, of which 9,800 are American soldiers. And this number will remain for a while, because “based on the request of President Ghani about flexible withdrawal, the US will maintain the current troop levels until the end of 2015”.

But how to supply all of them? 

From 2001 until the beginning of 2009, the Southern route was the main transport artery of supply of the foreign military contingent in Afghanistan.

Military cargo came from North America and Europe by sea through the Pakistani port of Karachi, land route through Pakistan (Peshawar-Jalalabad), through the Khyber pass and the border posts of Chaman and Torkham in Afghanistan.

Up to 2009 the military contingent had received more than 80% of its food, weapons and ammunition through the Southern route.

The Southern route runs through the volatile regions of Pakistan through the territory of the Pashtun tribes, the Taliban sympathizers. Since the end of 2008 – beginning of 2009, this route has become extremely unsafe. On the Afghan-Pakistan border the convoys were periodically attacked by the militants, who captured some of the supplies. Therefore, deliveries were paralyzed and reduced to a minimum.

But the troops had to be provided for. Urgently NATO began developing alternative logistics routes.  The result was agreement with Russia and Central Asian countries on the Northern supply route, or the “Northern distribution network”.

The Northern supply route first provided 50% and then 70% of the cargo. But after 2011, it has become the primary route.

The fact is that after the raid on Pakistan (!) military checkpoints by NATO helicopters on November 26, 2011 (24 Pakistani military killed, 14 injured), relations between the U.S. and Pakistan were badly tainted. As a result, in 2011, the Southern route was closed. 

It should be noted that the Northern route is not the best replacement. The fact is the US and NATO could easily transport any military cargoes in both directions through the Southern route.

The Northern route only allows non-lethal cargo and only in one direction: to Afghanistan.

However, a year later America was able to negotiate the re-opening of the Southern route (in exchange for just over 1.2 billion dollars of aid to Pakistan to fight terrorism), but it was used mainly for the withdrawal of 100 thousand NATO troops. For supplies the Northern route was still used.

Not everything was smooth for NATO with the Northern Route. There was  a big fee for transit through Uzbekistan, and problems with Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan (from where the U.S. was, to put it mildly, asked to leave). But now it doesn’t matter anymore.

All because today, on May 18, 2015, the Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev signed a government decree, terminating the transit of foreign weapons to Afghanistan.

The US is left with an unenviable choice: to lose face, breaking an international treaty with Afghanistan because of impossibility of fulfillment (maintaining a military contingent until the end of 2015); or to supply the troops through the troubled Southern route, losing military supplies to Taliban attacks.

PS.: The termination of transit of foreign weapons to Afghanistan also makes it impossible to use the base in Ulyanovsk.

There is still a route to Afghanistan via Georgia. But this route is, in fact, not operating.

The Georgian port of Poti does not have sufficient logistics infrastructure for handling oversized equipment. In addition, from Georgia to the Turkish NATO base Incirlik the military transport C-130 aircraft will not make it wthout refueling and the ISAF has only three new S-5, with a range of up to 5 thousand kilometers.

(ISAF – International Security Assistance Force – the NATO-led international forces, operating in Afghanistan)

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