MOSCOW, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Russia will not send troops to Afghanistan to battle the Taliban but will help in other ways, a top Kremlin official said Tuesday in Moscow.
Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev reiterated Russia's long-standing vow to never again send soldiers to Afghanistan, where the former Soviet Union lost 14,500 military personnel in its 1979-1989 campaign against Taliban insurgents, RIA Novosti reported.
The comments came after NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen suggested Sunday at a Munich, Germany, security conference that he didn't rule out the possibility of Russia joining NATO's anti-Taliban operations.
"We are strongly opposed to our military's role in operations in Afghanistan," Patrushev told the Russian news and information service. "A key to the Afghan problem lies in the political rather than military domain."
But he said Russia wants to help by allowing land transits of non-lethal NATO supplies to Afghanistan, noting the Kremlin has promised more Afghanistan help by expanding transits, supplying helicopters and training Afghan security forces.