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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Offers to Help Afghans — With Western Money

Russia's NATO envoy, Dmitry Rogozin, has offered to help rebuild Afghanistan — as long as the West provides the money.

Russia could restore more than 140 buildings erected by Soviet engineers in Afghanistan between 1952 and 1988, Rogozin said in an interview published Wednesday in Kommersant.

The country, torn apart by decades of war, is strewn with crumbling Soviet infrastructure in desperate need of repair.

Rogozin said Soviet-built power plants, highways, electricity lines and oil pipeline networks could be among the infrastructure to be refurbished by Russian engineers.

He called on officials to resist putting the repair contracts out to bid.

"The financing of these projects is an issue for the world community," Rogozin said. "Which country and how much to give — these are questions for our Western partners."

Countries that don't have soldiers in Afghanistan but are rich enough to allocate money to Russian contractors should pony up the funds, he said. A global conference on Afghanistan starts Thursday in London, and Kommersant reported that Russia would attempt to hammer out contracts during the conference.

Referring to holding tenders for the repair work, Rogozin said these "half-corrupt schemes of international competition" were "inappropriate."

"Our engineers constructed these buildings — they should restore them," he said.

The Soviets provided financial and military support for the Marxist Afghan government during the Cold War, and sent troops to defend it against the U.S.-backed mujahedin resistance in the 1980s Soviet-Afghan war.

Russia's logistical support for NATO- and U.S.-led operations there so far is limited to providing a little-used air transit corridor for weapons shipments, maintenance of Soviet helicopters and training for a few dozen anti-drugs police.

The United States and NATO have sought Russia's help in battling the Taliban, pointing out that it is in Moscow's interest to keep the country from falling into the hands of extremists.

But Russian officials and diplomats have expressed suspicion of U.S. and NATO goals in Afghanistan, while criticizing allied conduct of the war.

The Cold War foes formally resumed relations Tuesday in the first meeting between Russian and NATO military officials since the alliance cut ties after the 2008 Russia-Georgia war.

• NATO said it has reached agreement with Kazakhstan to open a key new supply route for the international force in Afghanistan.

Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the link from Europe to Afghanistan, via Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, would offer an alternative to the alliance's main logistics chain through Pakistan. This has come under repeated militant attack in the past.

Although the land and air route through Russia and Central Asia has been used in the past by individual NATO nations, the alliance as a whole did not have permanent rights to cross Kazakh territory.