Russia giving US advice on Afghanistan: Ivanov
Russia is giving discreet advice to US officials on Afghanistan but will "never again" send troops to the war-torn country, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Sunday.
"By the way, next year I think the ISAF will break the Soviet record of the duration of stay in Afghanistan," Ivanov said during a question-and-answer session with delegates to a regional security conference in Singapore.
He was referring to the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operating in Afghanistan since a US-led invasion toppled the hardline Taliban regime in the wake of the September 2001 attacks in the United States.
Ivanov, a former defence minister, declined to comment on US tactics in Afghanistan but called for more to be done to improve the socio-economic infrastructure to back up military efforts against militants.
"I can't give advice, particularly publicly," Ivanov told an audience of defence ministers, military officials and scholars as the annual forum known as the Shangri-La Dialogue drew to a close.
"I have to confess... meeting American defence secretaries, central intelligence chiefs, state department chiefs, we discussed it.
"If we are asked, we answer, but it's difficult to comment publicly, really difficult."
Ivanov said Russia was providing various forms of support to the ISAF including logistics, transport and intelligence, but ruled out Moscow ever sending its troops into Afghanistan.
"Never again a Russian soldier would enter Afghanistan," said Ivanov.
"I think you understand why. It's like asking the United States whether they will send troops to Vietnam," he said.
"It's something like that. It's totally impossible."
The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, which lasted from from 1979-1989, cost over 13,000 Soviet lives and contributed to the breakup of the Soviet Union.
© 2010 AFP