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Russian military official confirms no combat role in Afghanistan

Dushanbe, 20 October: Russia has no intention of getting involved in combat operations on the territory of Afghanistan, the chief of the Russian Defence Ministry's special group in Tajikistan, Lt-Gen Vladimir Popov, told a news conference on Saturday [20 October].

The Russian military official recalled that President [Vladimir] Putin had "described clearly all parameters of Russia's participation in settling the Afghan crisis and that statement says nothing either about ground operations, or about our country's participation in combat operations on the territory of Afghanistan as a whole".

At the same time, General Popov made it clear that Russia, like "every party concerned, has its own channels of communication on Afghan territory, including with the Northern Alliance".

General Popov said his group did not maintain systematic information exchanges with representatives of the USA or Uzbekistan or other Central Asian countries, but, if necessary, it could coordinate positions through diplomatic channels.

The Russian Defence Ministry's group has taken part in several working meetings with Pentagon officials in Dushanbe. The discussions concerned ways of coordinating search and rescue operations to be launched in case US raiding parties in Afghanistan got in trouble.

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