Last week, leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization met in Chicago to discuss the future of NATO’s role in Afghanistan. This post highlights commentary on this topic from the Russian, Indian and Chinese press.
Commentary in Russia generally called for greater Russian integration into NATO structures, while encouraging continued dialogue on NATO’s European missile shield plans.
- The state-run Itar-Tass news agency took an optimistic view of Russia-NATO relations in a review of the 15 year partnership, praising the continued growth of “mutual understanding and openness” between Russia and NATO.
On Afghanistan however, Russian views were highly critical. Several commentaries called for an increased role for the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Afghanistan. The CSTO, headquartered in Moscow, is a military alliance made up of seven former Soviet republics: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
- Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said that “NATO has so far ignored repeated offers from the CSTO bloc to start real action in fighting the Afghanistan drug trade” and that “ Russia is interested in the CSTO playing a bigger role in the anti-drug fight.”
- “Another NATO Summit, trying to find solutions for a destabilized Afghanistan,” lamented Pravda “Why is Afghanistan destabilized? Because NATO destabilized it…the more NATO rears its demonic head, the greater the need for an enlarged and effective CSTO.”
The main theme in Indian commentary was Pakistan’s role in hindering NATO efforts to stabilize Afghanistan:
- Given Pakistan’s refusal to reopen NATO supply routes and its continued support for terrorists networks that support the Taliban, “NATO must further develop alternative supply routes to Afghanistan through Russia and central Asia,” urged the Times of India in an editorial. “It also needs to slow down current plans to withdraw troops.”
- C. Raja Mohan argued that “ the US should play hardball” with the Pakistani army, and outlined four possible ways the US might “confront [Pakistan's] double-game in Afghanistan.” Expressing a great-power realist viewpoint, Mohan said that the US, despite its weakening position in Afghanistan, still has enough levers to compel Pakistan to stop supporting the Taliban.
Another concern was India’s relationship with NATO. An op-ed in the Indian Express lamented the absence of any structured engagement between India and NATO:
- “Given that the [NATO] alliance was built on principles and values that its members ostensibly share with India, there are no reasons why India’s defense establishment should not be considering similar opportunities for interaction. India is certainly not interested in a formal partnership, but shared interests and realms of activity…lend themselves, at the very least, to an agenda for consultations and dialogue.”
The officially-sanctioned press cast NATO as increasingly marginalized but also overly aggressive in recent military ventures. The People’s Daily argued that NATO “should not maintain its unsustainable life by exaggerating others’ military threats.” A commentary published by Xinhua pointed to various post-Cold War NATO missions and said that “NATO warmongering has triggered many disputes in the international community and even within the alliance itself.”