Russia, Britain plan to improve military ties

Russia and Britain are planning to expand significantly their bilateral military cooperation after a long period of strained relations between the two militaries, chief of the Russian General Staff Gen. Nikolai Makarov said on Tuesday.

Makarov met on Tuesday with his British counterpart Gen. David Richards, who is on a four-day visit to Russia.

“We had a close look at the reasons that prevented us from developing bilateral ties the way we wanted them to be…and how we can bring our cooperation to a new level,” Makarov said after the meeting.

Richards confirmed the plans to expand bilateral ties with Russia, especially in light of the ongoing efforts to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan.

The British general said that Russia’s support of the anti-Taliban international operation in the war-torn Central Asian country was invaluable because the Russian military knew the region better than anyone else.

The Soviet Union fought a nine-year war against mujahedeen fighters in Afghanistan in the 1980s, which ended with the Soviet troop withdrawal in 1989 under the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Russia’s main contribution to the NATO war effort in Afghanistan has been so far the provision of improved transit and supply routes for coalition forces and the deliveries of small arms and ammunition to the Afghan police.

Other contributions include the supply of Mi-17 helicopters and crews to train Afghan pilots, Russian assistance in training Afghan national security forces, and increased cooperation on counter-narcotics and border security.

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