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NATO Withdrawal From Afghanistan Would Pose Threat to Russia - Ivanov

Soldiers and Military Equipment in Afghanistan Amongst MountainsMUNICH. Feb 7 (Interfax) - The withdrawal of the NATO troops from Afghanistan can potentially pose a threat to Russia, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov told an international security conference in Munich on Saturday.
Image adapted from version copyright (c) 2010. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036 www.rferl.org

"The withdrawal of the peacekeeping troops, including the NATO troops, from there (Afghanistan) may pose a military threat to us. The situation can become worse than it is now," Ivanov said.

"Russia is interested in a stable and peaceful Afghanistan," he said.

However, "the situation in Afghanistan is currently difficult and there is no light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

Ivanov said he is especially concerned about the situation in northern Afghanistan, which borders of the Central Asian republics. "We are seriously concerned about the increase in extremist activities in northern Afghanistan. The return of the Taliban or anarchy will no doubt threaten our security," he said.

For this reason, Russia is helping the international forces stabilize the situation in the country in a passive way, including by allowing the transportation of cargo for the coalition forces through its territory by railroad transport and aviation, Ivanov said.

"The U.S. alone has transported over 20,000 containers," he said.

The coalition troops have recently been allowed to carry through the Russian territory special equipment with reinforced anti-mine protections, Ivanov said. "It's clear what this is being done," he said.

In addition, Russia is training Afghan drug policemen in Russia and in Afghanistan, he said.

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