NATO will retain its military presence in Afghanistan after 2017 and strengthen it, as stated by the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Alliance Jens Stoltenberg, on Thursday, following a meeting of NATO Defense Ministers on Afghanistan.
"We will continue our mission of 'Resolute support' after 2017. Today I can confirm that we will also strengthen our presence," he said, noting that 15 NATO countries committed themselves to increasing their contribution to the mission in Afghanistan. "We will also continue to finance Afghanistan's security forces until 2020," Stoltenberg added.
According to him, these units should move to a qualitatively new level. "This is why we intend to double the number of Afghan Special Forces within our mission to promote and train local forces. This is why we are giving Afghanistan new planes and training pilots. This is why we are increasing the number of seats in military academies for training," Stoltenberg said.
According to the Secretary General of the Alliance, Ukraine promised to continue supporting the NATO mission in Afghanistan.
"The Ukrainian Defense Minister took part in the meeting. He has confirmed Ukraine's support for Afghanistan and our operation in Afghanistan," he said.
According to the Secretary General, Ukraine will participate in the conference on the formation of additional forces and resources for Afghanistan. "I cannot disclose information on all countries, but we are grateful to Ukraine for contributing to our mission in Afghanistan," Stoltenberg said.
The further deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan after 15.5 years of NATO's participation in the conflict in this country (since December 2001) remains the biggest problem for the Alliance. It has been forced once more to increase its presence there in connection with the energization of Taliban militants. On Thursday, defense ministers of the Alliance discussed the deployment of an additional 4,000 military advisers and instructors to Afghanistan.
NATO completed the withdrawal of combat forces from Afghanistan in 2014. Since then, the Alliance's mission "Resolute Support", which numbers 13,500 people, has been operating there. Its tasks include training and assistance in management and logistical support, as well as the supply of intelligence to local security forces of about 360,000 people. NATO countries also provide financing of about $5 billion annually for the national army.
Despite these measures, in recent years, the Taliban opposition to the government has made progress in Afghanistan, regaining control of up to 40% of the country's territory. Since 2015, the positions of groups associated with the terrorist organization "Islamic State" are growing in the republic, and are fighting both against the government in Kabul and against the Taliban.