According to this editorial,
November 28, 2001 6:22 PM   Subscribe

According to this editorial, the Russians have outmaneuvered the US oil interests by encouraging the Northern Alliance to take Kabul. "The alliance is now Afghanistan's dominant force and, heedless of multi-party political talks in Germany going on this week, styles itself as the new "lawful" government, a claim fully backed by Moscow."
posted by electro (14 comments total)
Then there's the question (Yahoo News) of what is Russia building in the heart of Kabul? And this article from Slate, speculating on "Russia, Oil, and Conspiracy Theories."
posted by ferris at 6:54 PM on November 28, 2001

i think this is a little more than mildly creepy. people seem to forget that putin is an old KGB man. god only knows what grudges he holds.
posted by phalkin at 7:00 PM on November 28, 2001

I was wondering when this was going to be posted on MetaFilter. The original is from the Toronto Sun. (LA Times is much prettier.)

If this is true, it backs up a Debka report from a couple months ago, gives context to the NA rejection of the Bonn meetings, gives another reason behind Russia flipping the bird to OPEC (Russian oil companies don’t want to back down from current production levels as that would cut into profits), and makes me think about who’d win in a fight: a former frat boy and governor of Texas or former KGB agent with a black belt in judo?

Since the NA has been cast as the US’ biggest ally the last couple months, it would take an interesting turn-around to demonize them and drive them from power. Especially since they don’t seem to want to leave anytime soon. They’ve fought the Taliban for seven or eight years — why would they want to give up the spoils of war so easily?

Really scary worst case outcome: Battles erupt between the US and Russian-backed NA as the UN and US coalition try to impose their government.
posted by raaka at 7:07 PM on November 28, 2001

raaka: what's certainly to be feared is an internal power struggle between the constituent parties in the United Front. The Jamiat-i Islami took Kabul, Dostum's Junbish holds Mazar. They'll all expect a piece of the pie. And yes, there's the real possibility of that turning into a struggle between Russian- and US-favoured groups, whether fought hot or cold. After all, there's no real history of balancing out minorities in Afghanistan along the lines of Madison's constitutional settlement.
posted by holgate at 7:45 PM on November 28, 2001

...makes me think about who?d win in a fight: a former frat boy and governor of Texas or former KGB agent with
a black belt in judo?

If the fight's in Florida, all bets are off ;)
posted by electro at 8:00 PM on November 28, 2001

Obviously Bush would win since he'd be packin' heat.
posted by gyc at 9:00 PM on November 28, 2001

gyc: Obvious? Um, you don't think Putin could easily kick the gun out Bush's hand?
posted by raysmj at 11:27 PM on November 28, 2001

More from the Washington Post. Now there's "friction" in Bonn.

Russia's U.N. ambassador, Sergei Lavrov, threatened to press for the dismissal of Barnett Rubin, a respected American scholar serving in the delegation of U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi. Rubin, in an interview published Nov. 24 in the French newspaper Le Monde, called Russia "very irresponsible" because it "has less interest in Afghanistan's stability than in the reestablishment of its influence."

Lavrov said that U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan told him that he was also "enraged" by Rubin's remarks and pledged to "take some action."

posted by ferris at 6:42 AM on November 29, 2001

More from the Washington Post article: "But as a postwar phase approaches, U.S. officials say that Russia has a different perspective on what a future Afghan government would look like. They say that while some members of the Bush administration are ready to countenance the inclusion of former Taliban members in a new government, Russia is more leery. It sees the Taliban as an anti-Russia group and a wedge for Pakistani influence, U.S. officials believe."

Russia is "leery"? Heck, I'm far beyond leery--I'm appalled!
posted by Carol Anne at 7:18 AM on November 29, 2001

Has the US really been "outmaneuvered" here? Russia aside, we've developed a tacit security relationship with Iran, and have secured the use of former Soviet bases in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, sure to enhance our contacts there; which means we're moving into their "sphere of influence". (How quickly 21st century geopolitics has come to resemble 19th century geopolitics.) We're already cooperating with the Russians on other pipeline projects, we're getting access to their oil at Sakhalin, so what's to prevent cooperation on an Afghan pipeline (which would benefit them as well as us)? Russia has to know that their economy will be far more vulnerable to a breakdown in relations over oil with the US; five years down the road, there's little telling what kind of relationship we'll have with other suppliers. Maybe we could flip Moscow the bird instead, and there goes their federal budget.

As far as Afghanistan, the Russians have as much to fear from chaos there as we do -- remember, they had 500 people killed by Chechen bombers in their capital city.

This is exactly like Debka: overwrought scaremongering. If you take the worst possible outcome of every component indicator, perhaps it's almost that bad. But we really have little to fear from a Russia with "influence" in Afghanistan today, as compared with 20 years ago.
posted by dhartung at 8:09 AM on November 29, 2001

Obviously Bush would win since he'd be packin' heat.

One of the few true innovations to come out of the Soviet Union was the wide variety of ways the KGB developed to hide weapons in ordinary looking objects. Putin could probably walk around with five guns, a camera, and a poison dart shooter and no one would be the wiser.
posted by ljromanoff at 8:32 AM on November 29, 2001

Well, duh!

Just because Russia is broke doesn't mean that that they're a bunch of idiots, which the morons running our foriegn policy seem to think. Bush charged into Afghanistan completely clueless (as usual) and he'll most likely end up paying for it in the long run.

Remember what happened to Bush The First?

Iraq (cough, cough)!!
posted by zeb vance at 5:42 PM on November 29, 2001

That's F-O-R-E-I-G-N. That's what I get for posting stoned!
posted by zeb vance at 5:46 PM on November 29, 2001

...wide variety of ways the KGB developed to hide weapons in ordinary looking objects...

Some cool secret KGB weapons and the infamous umbrella gun.
posted by nikzhowz at 5:50 PM on November 29, 2001

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