Too soon to leave Afghanistan, Russia says

Aug. 14, 2013 at 9:54 AM   |   Comments

MOSCOW, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- International forces operating in Afghanistan are moving too quickly toward the exit doors, a Russian defense minister said Wednesday.

International forces in Afghanistan wrap up their combat operations next year, transitioning to an advisory role as Afghan forces take on security responsibilities.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said it was too soon to give Afghan forces more authority.

The International Security Assistance Force "has been too hasty about making the final decision to pull out in 2014," he was quoted by state news agency RIA Novosti as saying. "Domestic security forces capable of countering radical elements have not yet been created."

Russian military intelligence in May said it was concerned radical elements inside Afghanistan may become more influential after 2014.

Nearly 7,000 Russian troops are stationed in Tajikistan, Afghanistan's northern neighbor. Antanov said the Russian military was "doing very much" to strengthen its regional military position ahead of the pullout.

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in July civilian casualties in the first six months of 2013 were 23 percent higher than the same time last year. UNAMA's midyear report said 74 percent of those casualties were attributed to armed insurgents.

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