- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Russia on Wednesday delivered 10,000 automatic rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition to Afghanistan on Wednesday as a sign of Moscow’s deepening involvement in the war-torn region.

“This donation represents a deep friendship between two nations,” Afghan national security adviser Hanif Atmar said at an event as he accepted the arms delivery, Reuters reported. “This important donation is from an important friend of Afghanistan in a crucial time for Afghanistan and the region.”

The guns and ammunition were provided under an existing security agreement between the two countries.

Afghanistan is dependent almost entirely on foreign aid and the country’s security forces are struggling to maintain balance amid a rising insurgency.

Last year, as NATO forces began to withdraw military support in the region, Afghanistan reached out to Moscow to ask for more weapons and equipment.

Russia fought its own war in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

Russia’s ambassador, Alexander Mantytskiy, told the gathered military and security officers that his country is willing to work with Afghanistan to combat problems like terrorism and drugs.

The weapons delivery comes as the Kremlin has expressed disappointment with the failures of U.S. policies in Afghanistan, Reuters reported.

Russia was never a member of the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, but it has worked with the U.S. for years, allowing military supplies to travel through its territories to reach Afghanistan.

However, that cooperation has dwindled amid growing tensions between Moscow and Washington over the wars in Ukraine and Syria.

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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