Nato-Russia Council

Russia's Ambassador in Kabul Speaks to the NRC

NATO-RUSSIA COUNCIL AMBASSADOR ANDREY AVETISYANRussian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Andrey Avetisyan at the Russian Embassy in Kabul.

Russian Ambassador to Kabul, Andrey Avetisyan speaking to the NATO-Russia Council website team after his recent briefing to NRC ambassadors about Afghanistan, gave us his views on NRC cooperation on Afghanistan. NRC cooperation on Afghanistan is substantial and growing. What effects is it having on the security situation in Afghanistan, in your opinion?

Ambassador Avetisyan: "The NRC is working on two very important projects for Afghanistan. There is the NRC Counter Narcotics Training Project and the NRC Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund.

To begin with the Counter Narcotic Training Project, this has been providing training for Afghan counter narcotics’ officers to fight narcotics trafficking since 2006. This is of utmost importance because Afghanistan is facing two threats - from terrorism and from drugs – and they are intertwined. Dealing with drugs means dealing with terrorism as well. By training officers to fight the narcotics trade we are also helping the fight against terrorists. Afghanistan has a real need for qualified professionals who have received training to deal with the drug threat. In providing counter narcotics training, NRC nations are demonstrating the importance they attach to addressing the problem, and on a political level, their commitment to continue supporting Afghanistan. The NRC counter-narcotics training is working to improve practical skills in the areas most needed. More than 2500 officers from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asian countries have been trained and they do an extremely important job.

We also have the more recent NRC Helicopter Maintenance Project. Helicopters play a vital role in the ability of the Afghan National Security Forces to do their job. The helicopters they use are Russian-built, mostly Mi-17, helicopters. Russia is the best source of expertise and has the best facilities for Mi-17 helicopter servicing in the world, and this is where Afghan technicians are being trained in helicopter maintenance skills. I know that the first group of Afghan technicians trained by the NRC gained a lot of knowledge and practical skills that were badly needed in Afghanistan. We’ve reinforced cooperation in the NRC by broadening the Afghan Air Force’s knowledge, which has improved the ability of Afghan technicians to service and mend helicopters, as well as by providing spare parts. Ultimately, this has really been vital for the Afghan helicopter fleet because essentially they wouldn’t be able to fly these helicopters without it. And we’re ready to do more in this area going forward." From your experience ‘on the ground’ in Kabul, what more could the NRC  offer, particularly in the post 2014 context, in terms of training for Afghanistan?

Ambassador Avetisyan: "Most importantly, we cannot just forget about Afghanistan, we have to reassure the Afghans that post 2014 our support will not be over. And that we are ready to continue our cooperation in the NRC, providing support in these vital areas. In particular we have to reinforce our work on counter narcotics by expanding the Counter Narcotics Training project– including by increasing regional cooperation, which would first and foremost underline our commitment to working together against the threat of drugs and terrorism to all our populations."