Putin calls for NATO to stay in Afghanistan

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Putin calls for NATO to stay in Afghanistan

Putin calls for NATO to stay in Afghanistan
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has slammed the planned withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan.

Putin says the pull-out in 2014 will leave the country vulnerable to militant violence and drug trafficking.

“If there is no order in Afghanistan, it will not be calm on our southern borders. The current (Afghan) leadership will have difficulties keeping the situation under control,” he said.

NATO member states are there at present and are performing this function. It is necessary to help them, even though we will not be fighting there ourselves. Let them stay there and fight.”

NATO’s pull-out is due to begin next year as security is gradually handed over to Afghan forces.

Putin visited the city of Ulyanovsk, 900 kilometres southeast of Moscow, where a new NATO logistics hub has begun operations.

Hundreds of people turned out to protest the new centre on Wednesday, amid fears the new centre could become a full military base.

Putin has promised it won’t be used for combat operations in Afghanistan.

Russia ruled out sending troops to support the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 following the Soviet Union’s ill-fated war there in the 1980s.