U.S. may sock Bin Laden from Russian bases

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September 14, 2001 -- WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is talking with Russia about using former Soviet military bases in central Asia as staging areas for massive military assaults on Osama bin Laden, The Post has learned.

Senior diplomatic officials in both countries revealed last night that plans to use two Russian bases in Tajikistan - and the former Soviet air base at Bagram inside a portion of Afghanistan under the control of anti-Taliban forces - are at the center of ongoing talks between the United States and Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country has been victimized by terror bombings of Moscow apartment buildings linked to bin Laden, has revived an offer he made a year ago for the United States to use bases in Tajikistan for possible joint operations against bin Laden and the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said President Bush spoke twice by phone to Putin on Wednesday about joint measures the two former Cold War rivals might take to combat their common enemy: militant Islam.

Asked specifically about whether the United States will use the Russian bases as staging areas for military operations in Afghanistan, Powell said only: "There are lots of ways the Russians can help. It's their neighborhood."

The White House has said it is prepared to launch massive and sustained military action against those responsible for Tuesday's attacks, but has not made final decisions on the details. Options being debated include repeated air strikes and possible ground assaults and commando raids, sources said.

The United States could stage long-range air raids and missile attacks from aircraft carriers and bases in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, but Pentagon planners have acknowledged the need for a staging area in the volatile region if it becomes necessary for ground operations.

"If you look on the map, the Tajik and Afghan bases are the most logical and reliable staging areas for what I think is being contemplated," said Kenneth Katzman, former CIA analyst and Afghan expert for the Congressional Research Service.

Likely targets of U.S. bombing raids and ground assaults would be heavily fortified mountain bunkers and caves. "There is 100 percent Russian solidarity on this. The Russian government and people realize that we face a common enemy," said Michael McFaul, of the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace.

Russia has maintained a large military presence in Tajikistan since its forces pulled out of Afghanistan in the early 1980s. The 201st Motorized Division is considered one of the best-equipped and -trained units left over from the once-mighty Soviet Red Army, and is located near the Afghan border.

The Bagram Air base, once the center of Soviet military operations in Afghanistan, is located 40 miles north of Kabul in an area controlled by the Northern Alliance, one of the largest anti-Taliban groups still fighting in Afghan's civil war. The Russians have also been pushing for months to give economic aid and military support to the Northern Alliance fighters, and those plans intensified yesterday with meetings in Tajikstan that were also attended by Iran and India.

-- Swissrose (cellier3@mindspring.com), September 14, 2001


This is so ironic, if true. Working with Russia to invade Afghanistan? Wow.

I suppose it has to be done. We created this Frankenstein, and now we have to do something about it. It's going to be a dirty job.

-- Margaret J (mjans01@yahoo.com), September 14, 2001.

Russia joins NATO to oppose terrorism Compiled from Times wires

St. Petersburg Times, published September 14, 2001

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BRUSSELS -- President Bush's call for a global coalition against terrorism gained additional foreign support Thursday as Russia, in a rare joint statement with NATO, expressed its anger over the attacks in the United States and called for a worldwide effort to combat such acts.

After a special meeting here, the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council issued a statement saying: "While (NATO) allies and Russia have suffered from terrorist attacks against civilians, the horrific scale of the attacks of 11 September is without precedent in modern history."

The council, which oversees relations between the two former Cold War adversaries, said NATO and Russia would "intensify" its cooperation to fight the scourge of terrorism.

"NATO and Russia call on the entire international community to unite in the struggle against terrorism," the statement said.

Russia's support for the United States and the alliance as a whole has been unusually forthright, rooted in what Moscow perceives as a common cause: the fight against Islamic radicalism. Russia has portrayed the war in Chechnya as a struggle against Islamic fanatics and blamed the general instability on its southern borders on the same forces.

The Russian government has consistently asserted that the Islamic terrorism it is fighting has its roots in Afghanistan.

A senior NATO official said that Russia had offered the statement, without being asked by either NATO or American officials. The official said that Ukraine was likely to make a similar statement on Friday.

As shock seemed to give way to anger throughout Europe, some allies were forthright in supporting military action.

In Britain, where Home Secretary Jack Straw said that "hundreds" of British citizens had died in the attack on the World Trade Center, the government announced that its forces were already on the alert for possible retaliatory action.

President Jacques Chirac of France did not specifically mention military action, but in an interview on CNN he said that polls showed the 96 percent of the French were "in solidarity with the U.S.," something he had never seen before.

"France, I would like to repeat, will be totally supportive," he said. "We will show solidarity."

On Wednesday, the 19 members of NATO took the unprecedented step of invoking a mutual defense clause -- pledging assistance if the terror plot proves to have been masterminded from abroad.

But NATO denied reports that it had already drawn up a plan to invade Afghanistan, the refuge of Osama bin Laden, the exiled Saudi millionaire who is suspected of having planned the devastating attacks.

"The story is wrong," NATO said in a statement. "It is based on unfounded speculations."

http://www.sptimes.com/News/091401/Worldandnation/Russia_joins_NATO_to _.shtml

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 14, 2001.

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