Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has requested Russia for military assistance amid growing insurgency and failing security forces, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. The move comes after U.S.-led NATO forces pulled out most of their troops from the war-torn country last year and also cut financial aid.
Ghani asked Moscow for artillery, small arms and Mi-35 choppers, Afghan and Russian authorities said, according to the Journal. Russian government was mulling over the request, Alexander Mantytskiy, the country’s ambassador to Kabul, reportedly said, adding that Afghanistan’s requests for military help have increased this year.
“We will provide some assistance, but it doesn’t mean that any soldier from the Russian Federation will be here on Afghan soil,” Mantytskiy said, according to the daily. “Why should we carry the burden of a problem that was not solved by the Americans and NATO countries?”
Afghanistan’s Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other defense authorities in Moscow this month to talk about possible help.
“Gen. Dostum wanted Russia to pay attention to the situation in Afghanistan,” Sultan Faizy, Dostum’s spokesman said, adding that Russia’s response to the request seemed positive, according to the Journal. “Northern Afghanistan and countries allied to Russia are under threat -- that is why Russia is willing to help.”
Besides holding talks with Russian defense officials, Dostum also met Ramzan Kadyrov, the pro-Kremlin leader of Russia’s Chechen Republic. Kadyrov, who is active on Russian social media, praised Dostum’s military skills.
“Kabul needs the support of Russia, just like Syria,” Kadyrov reportedly wrote on Vkontakte, a European social network. “We expressed assurance that the leadership of Russia will take the appropriate response to this question.”
If Russia asks for payment for the military help, the Afghan government will purchase limited equipment and pay from its domestically generated revenues, Zafar Hashemi, Ghani’s spokesman, said, according to the Journal.
Afghanistan reportedly collects less than $5 billion a year in taxes and relies on international aid, mostly from the U.S., to pay the salaries of its army and police and supply fuel and ammunition to fight insurgents.