KABUL — Russia hopes to connect to a series of ambitious investment projects in the releasing of NATO forces in Afghanistan to support the fragile stability of the State in which the Soviet troops during the decade led an unsuccessful war, said on Thursday Russia's ambassador in Kabul.
Although Russia has no common border with Afghanistan, Moscow is concerned that the situation in his "underbelly" — post-Soviet Central Asia, which has become a transit corridor for drug trafficking and terrorism.
In the last ten years, the Russian participation in the reconstruction of Afghanistan was limited.
"Because only then did nothing but war and since we do not fight, we do not see a place for our activities", — says Andrey Avetisyan.
But this approach has changed.
"At the moment we are trying to sort of start from scratch" — said he told Reuters in a sparkling newly erected building of the embassy, which is less than two-thirds of the Soviet built during the war. 23rd anniversary of its completion noted on Wednesday, both in Russia and in Afghanistan.
Russia hopes to return to about 150 projects, the development of which began in the Soviet era — from the construction of new roads, it needs so much of Afghanistan, reconstruction loaded and outdated Salang Tunnel to restore the Kabul bakery.
According to Avetisyan, for these projects, many of which were built before the Soviet invasion in 1979, remain relevant technology, documentation, and even the same engineers, so that Russia sees for an advantage.
Moscow intends to explore new opportunities for investment — oil, hydropower, construction, and perhaps even the creation of the country's first railway network.
A year ago, the Asian Development Bank estimated infrastructure needs in Afghanistan in more than $ 4 billion.
Avetisyan declined to name the amount of the planned Russian investment, but said talks with Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zahilvalom in Moscow should shed some light on what projects Russia will begin to develop.
According to him, the Russian gas monopoly, Gazprom, the largest oil company Rosneft, state-owned Russian Railways, the second largest oil production Lukoil and gosenergokompaniya Inter RAO, as well as several others, are interested in participating in specific projects in Afghanistan.
"We're not going to tell the Afghans how to live, what kind of life. We have done away with that 25 years ago "- said Avetisyan, who worked in Kabul for another Soviet government and has since been fluent in the two main languages of Afghanistan — Dari and Pashto.
"We want to have as a neighbor friendly and independent Afghanistan … Priority should be economic development, because without it there can not appear safe. The roots of instability lie in the problems of people who do not work and at home. "
'ALMOST LOST DECADE "
The escalation of violence in Afghanistan, in an increasingly unpopular war eleventh consecutive year reinforces the concern in Russia, which borders populated mainly Muslim republics of Central Asia, and leading the fight against Islamist militants in the volatile North Caucasus region.
The flow of Afghan heroin, which the Kremlin has called a threat to national security, he brought Russia into the lead on the number of drug addicts, which gave rise to an increase in the number of people living with HIV / AIDS.
These concerns come to the fore during the withdrawal of NATO troops, the completion of which is scheduled for the end of 2014. West will prepare the Afghan police force and army of 350,000 people, who will assume full responsibility for security.
Washington, who decided to go to Afghanistan, risks repeating throwing his opponent for the "cold war," says Avetisyan.
"They (the United States) came here ten years ago, thinking that they can solve everything here very quickly, and then leave. The same mistake allowed the Soviet army, "- the diplomat said, speaking of the infamous troop withdrawal, which ended in 1989. In Afghanistan, killed 15,000 Soviet soldiers.
After a rapid exit of Moscow, the communist government of Afghanistan fell, leading to a power struggle between the various warlords and protracted civil war weakened the authority of the official Kabul and paved the way for the rise to power of the Taliban in 1996.
Avetisyan lamented the slow recovery of the economy of Afghanistan for as long as the Western coalition is based here. The same unhappy with many ordinary Afghans, accusing the United States is that they are investing in the economy is not enough manpower and resources.
"In this sense, these ten years, almost lost," — said the diplomat.
"… Why do Americans set itself such minor economic goals? Because it was not their purpose and, I fear, still is not it. "