Russians Returning to Kabul

A high-level Russian delegation is being rushed to the Afghan capital of Kabul to “look into the military requirements of the legitimate government of Rabbani”.
A special Russian commando team landed in Bagram airbase Saturday November 17 to secure the high-level Russian team.
The Russian commandos landed shortly after British troops took up positions at Bagram airbase.
The Russian commandos without waiting for the Russian delegation to land in Kabul took up duty as personal security unit for Rabbani, who declared himself the legitimate ruler of Afghanistan.
The delegation, announced over Russian State TV ‘RTR’ Saturday November 17, means that the Russians will enter Kabul ahead of the Islamic Peace Force planned by the UN for supervising the formation of Afghanistan’s first post-Taliban ruling body.
debkafile‘s sources in Washington and Moscow report that this fresh development was revealed hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin returned home from his ranch summit with US President George W. Bush, at Crawford, Texas. It may well represent one of the two presidents’ key areas of agreements. Bush may have made the gesture of allowing Russia to re-enter Kabul in a manner that would wipe out the ignominy the Red Army’s rout in Afghanistan 12 years ago.
The 17-member official team will be led by Russia’s special envoy Alexander Oblov and comprise diplomats, high army officers and relief officials. It is scheduled to meet General Fahim, the Northern Alliance defense minister, who is reported by debkafile‘s sources to have set up a military council to rule Kabul in the interim, until the returning former president Burhanuddin Rabbani is installed. Rabbani, a Tajik ousted by the Taliban five years ago, also returned to Kabul Saturday.
“The situation on the fronts has radically changed and we need a team on the spot in Kabul,” said Russian defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, in the broadcast.
No other government, including the United States has recognized Rabbani as post-war ruler of Afghanistan. The US position vis a vis Moscow’s stance on this question is not yet clear.
In the meantime, maneuvers advance for influence in shaping the future regime amid rivalries among Northern Alliance coalition factions, each bidding for a stake in the future government and control of the areas of the country abandoned by Taliban forces.

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