MOSCOW — President-elect Vladimir Putin called NATO a “relic of the Cold War” on April 11 but said Russia still welcomes the Western military bloc’s presence in Afghanistan.
“I think that NATO as a whole — and I say this directly to our colleagues — is a relic of the Cold War era,” Putin said to a round of applause from lawmakers who were present for his annual address to parliament.
But Putin then quickly added that NATO on occasion plays a “stabilizing” role in world affairs and particularly raised the example of Afghanistan.
“We understand what is happening in Afghanistan — right? We are interested in things there being under control. Right? And we do not want our soldiers to fight on the Tajik-Afghan border,” he said in reference to Moscow’s Soviet-era involvement in Afghanistan.
“Well, NATO and the Western community is present there. God give them good health. Let them work,” Putin said.