Speech of the chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation at the International Conference on Afghanistan.
Valery Gerasimov is a Russian General, the current Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, and first Deputy Defence Minister.
Originally appeared at Vpk-news, translated by Carpatho-Russian exclusively for SouthFront
Along with the crisis in the Middle Eastern region, where a significant part of the territory of Syria and Iraq is under control of the terrorist organization “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant”, and efforts of the international anti-terrorist coalition led by the United States are not bringing results, special concern is caused also by the situation in Afghanistan.
Increasing terrorist activity hinders the development of Afghanistan, and the considerable inflow of drugs, weapons, and trained fighters from its territory bears a threat to its neighbors and first of all to the countries of Central Asia.
In this situation it is essential to seek jointly measures, execution of which will allow restoring peace and tranquility in this long-suffering country, and not allow the growth of a zone of instability on neighboring regions.
30 years old of instability
The Afghan problem and everything that is associated with security in the SCO zone, are in the area of constant attention of the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, General of the Army S. G. Shoigu.
It has been specifically on his initiative that the idea of conducting a conference on the Afghan problem has been supported by our partners in SCO on the Council of Ministers of Defense of the organization, in St. Petersburg on June 30 of this year.
Permit me to read to you the greeting from the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation to the participants and guests of our conference.
I welcome the participants and guests of the International Conference on Afghanistan.
For several decades, military operations have not ceased in the country. After the main contingent of the International security assistance force consluded its efforts, the military situation remains intense. Terrorist organizations interested in preserving instability have become more active.
Special concern is caused by the increased activity of emissaries of the so-called Islamic State in Afghanistan.
Strengthening regional security is possible when joining forces of all interested states. In particular, the agreed actions within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization could promote positive changes in Afghanistan.
We are convinced that the open exchange of views within the Conference will promote the development of recommendations on effective countermeasures to the calls and threats to the security of the region.
It is important to formulate the general understanding that we might act jointly to assist the Afghan leadership and prevent the spreading of extremism to adjacent states.
We consider that the Forum of representatives of the General Staffs will permit carrying out the analysis of the reasons which have led to a today’s situation in Afghanistan, and help to define pathways to achieve stability in the country and in the region as a whole.
I wish you fruitful discussions, and all the best.
Minister of Defense
of the Russian Federation
General of the Army
October 8, 2015
The analysis of the military-political situation directly in Afghanistan and Central Asian region indicates that its development is influenced by a number of factors in political, economic, and properly military spheres. Until now, it has not been possible to create a steady balanced system of mutual security. The mechanisms created earlier for regional security based on mutual restraint are not operative today. There have appeared new calls and threats, often uncharacteristic for this region.
Systematic issues in the security area arose here in the early 1990s, when the Islamic Taliban movement was formed to fight against the limited contingent of the Soviet armies, and subsequently the global and regional balance of forces that had existed for many years was destroyed after the disintegration of the USSR. Perceiving itself to be the winner of the Cold War, a number of the states of the West ceased to consider the interests of other countries in their policy, and the norms of international law. They began to use the “color revolutions” as the main instrument to achieve national interests. In doing so, they assigned to themselves the decisive word in determining the democratic character of the legitimate authorities of the states in any region of the world. Their experience using the Taliban movement as a prototype of modern terrorist movements began to be applied widely outside of Afghanistan. As a result, the activity of various international extremist and terrorist groups became one of the main threats to the national security of many states.
Currently there are in Afghanistan up to 50,000 fighters united in more than in four thousand detachments and groups of various orientation. The Islamic Taliban movement numbering up to 40,000 fighters is their foundation. Active opposition of extremists to governmental armies makes it impossible for official Kabul to solve the issues of stabilizing the political and socio- economic situation in the country, and this leads to continuous increase in the number of refugees to neighboring countries, and through them to Europe.
Terror, refugees, narcotics
In the past year, the country has seen a sharp increase in the activity of the international terrorist organization “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” which, with the goals of expanding its sphere of influence and constructing the “Islamic Caliphate”, is taking control over newer and newer regions. In our assessment, there are between two and three thousand fighters of ISIS in Afghanistan, and their number is constantly growing.
As a result of the subversive and terrorist activity of radical extremists, the death toll of Afghan citizens in the current year increased by 25 percent and has reached over 3,500 people. About 7,000 were wounded. In addition, the number of refugees from Afghanistan significantly increased.
Now the European Union has adopted the decision to settle approximately 150,000 refugees in the states of Europe. However, the actual refugee flow is much higher. According to some data, up to one million people may go in search of shelter to the countries of the continent this year. Many among them are natives of Afghanistan. Every day up to eight thousand people.address the Afghan authorities concerning issuance of an international passport. The reason for this lies in the forceful planting of the extremist ideology among the population, the incessant acts of terrorism, and the low standard of living of the population.
Another significant factor influencing the situation in Afghanistan is the increase in narcotraffic volume to neighboring countries, which is the main source of financing of terrorist activity of the fighters.
Over the last 14 years, the volume of narcotics produced grew by a factor of 40, and the amount of the opium obtained in the current year could reach eight thousand tons, which exceeds last year’s numbers by 20 percent.
We as military are especially disturbed by the insufficient preparation and equipment of the Afghan force structures, which does not permit them to effectively conduct operations against illegal armed formations. An example of that is the capture by fighters of the Taliban Movement of the city of Kunduz — a large administrative center in the north of the country, even though NATO formations in the country were involved in its protection.
And after all, just a year ago the USA, NATO, and their allies, while curtailing the mission of the international forces in Afghanistan, declared that the situation had stabilized in the region and that the Afghan force structures could provide security in the state. As we see, this did not happen.
The aggregate set of factors presented promotes further aggravation of the situation in Afghanistan, to establishment of control by extremists over entire regions, to merging of terrorist formations with organized crime with subsequent increase in the production of opiates and volumes of narcotrafficing, to the deterioration of the social and economic situation of simple Afghans, to the increased number of unemployed, to the outflow of citizens from the country, and to strengthening of political positions of the extremist organizations.
Make common cause quickly
A new view of ensuring security in the region is required now. It is necessary to think of the contribution of SCO and its partner countries to organizing collective efforts on support of the Afghan leadership and developing effective measures to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan.
Collective security in the region can be provided only on the basis of joint actions of states that are geographically close and have common interests.
Therefore the maximum readiness for dialogue is required from you, dear participants and guests of the Conference. Despite the entire complexity of the situation, we see readiness of the management and the people of Afghanistan to fight for restoration of peace and order in the country. At the same time without the aid of friendly states and organizations this will be difficult.
In our opinion, in order to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan and Central Asia it is necessary to:
- first, render assistance to the leadership of Afghanistan and other Central Asian states in equipping and training force structures to increase the efficiency of their actions against extremists;
- secondly, incorporate all possible institutes to assist social and economic development of the countries of the region and render humanitarian assistance to the population of Afghanistan;
- thirdly, use joint efforts to block sources of financing and delivery channels for arms and appliances to the extremist organizations operating in Afghanistan.
Counteracting the ideology of extremism can become one more official action to stabilize the situation.
Only purposeful joint operation will permit stabilizing the situation in Central Asia and allow a broadening of the influence of extremist organizations on other countries and regions. I believe that during discussions in a conference you can exchange views of the current situation that will promote formation of new system of regional security.
The Russian Federation is prepared for such cooperation.