Russia threatens to cut off NATO supply routes

Pakistan closed a key border crossing used by NATO to supply troops in Afghanistan

From Joshua Kucera, the Bug Pit:  Russia has threatened to cut off NATO supply routes to Afghanistan if the alliance doesn’t compromise on its missile defense plans, Moscow’s NATO envoy, Dmitry Rogozin, has said. From the Wall Street Journal:

If NATO doesn’t give a serious response, "we have to address matters in relations in other areas," Russian news services reported Dmitri Rogozin, ambassador to NATO, as saying. He added that Russia’s cooperation on Afghanistan may be an area for review, the news services reported.

This is just the latest in several headaches that the U.S. has had to deal with over the last couple of weeks regarding its supply lines to Afghanistan. First, there was an explosion in Uzbekistan on a line used by the U.S. and NATO, then Pakistan cut off its supply lines in response to a NATO attack that killed 28 Pakistani soldiers. And the flamboyantly nationalist Rogozin rarely misses a chance to kick the U.S. when it’s down. (He also gloated, via twitter, that a somewhat threatening statement by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on missile defense last week forced U.S. officers at NATO to go into work on Thanksgiving.)

An expert quoted by the Journal suggests that this new Russian threat isn’t too serious:

Ivan Safranchuk, deputy director of the Moscow-based Institute of Contemporary International Studies, said Russia is unlikely to cut off the flow of NATO supplies to Afghanistan as an immediate response to missile-defense decisions. But Russia does want its objections to the missile shield to be taken more seriously, he said.

"If the U.S. is not responsive, then a cutoff could be a reality at some point," Mr. Safranchuk said. "Russia would like the U.S. to be more serious about Russian concerns."  (photo: Reuters)

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