Do the math. Afghanistan is landlocked. It is a logistical nightmare. Putin has generously allowed US forces to fly across Russia to get there. Why not help the Americans to go broke and ultimately be humiliated in Afghanistan?
Watch the video and read the article. Would you throw in 30,000 more troops and tens of billions of freshly printed dollars to accomplish exactly what?
Taliban stalls key hydroelectric turbine project in Afghanistan
Convoy diverted British troops from front but generator may never be used
Jon Boone in Kabul
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 13 December 2009 22.18 GMT
An enormous hydroelectric turbine dragged at huge cost by British troops through Taliban heartlands last year may never be installed because Nato has been unable to secure a 30-mile stretch of road leading to an isolated dam in northern Helmand.
The daring mission to deliver 220 tonnes of equipment to the Kajaki dam in Afghanistan in September 2008 was hailed as one of the biggest success stories of the British Army's three-year deployment in Helmand.
Two thousand British troops took part in the five-day convoy through enemy territory, which was launched because the main road leading to the dam was too vulnerable to Taliban attacks.
Senior British officers privately say the enormous diversion of scarce military resources for the operation allowed the Taliban to make major gains in other critical areas of the province, including Nad Ali, which subsequently saw some of the most intense fighting between British forces and insurgents.
Within a couple of months of the Kajaki operation, areas close to the British base in Lashkar Gah had deteriorated so badly that troops had to be resupplied by air drop.
The dam continues to be besieged by Taliban fighters and, 15 months after the mission by the UK troops, the turbine's components remain unassembled because huge amounts of cement that are required to install the equipment cannot be delivered safely.
Now the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the wing of the United States government which has so far pumped $47m (£29m) into the project, intended to electrify much of southern Afghanistan, says it is packing the turbine parts away and looking for other energy projects to invest in across Afghanistan.
"Our message is that until we have a secure road we cannot continue with the installation of turbine two," said John Smith-Sreen, head of energy and water projects for USAID in Kabul.
"When the turbine was moved in by British and American forces it was a huge effort and it was done in a point of time. But we can't move in the large quantity of cement and aggregate that we need in a point of time, we need a sustained effort," he said.
The road would need to be secured for about half a year.
While the cement required could probably be transported in around half that time, civilian contractors would need to see the road had been secured for about three months to attract them to the project, Smith-Sreen said.
He added that CMIC, a Chinese company contracted to install the turbine, "left due to security concerns overnight" when it was clear that the road would not be secured. The agency has not been able to find another subcontractor prepared to do the work.
USAID says about 30 miles of road is affected, but at a time when General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, is pursuing a strategy of concentrating effort on protecting large towns and cities from Taliban influence, securing a stretch of road in a sparsely populated area of northern Helmand is unlikely to be a priority.
A spokesman for Task Force Helmand said there are no plans to change the current security operations at Kajaki, where British soldiers are responsible for an ongoing effort to provide a security "bubble" around the plant.
While insurgents have been unable to get close to the dam and its turbine hall, heavy fighting around the perimeter of the area of British control is an almost daily occurrence.
Smith-Sreen said USAID was currently "deciding what to do" with the turbine, but that the process of mothballing it had already begun in the run up to the contract expiring in April.
"Unless we are told otherwise we are going to continue the process of inventorying the parts and storing them away securely," he said. He said the agency had other areas where it was considering investing resources, including smaller electricity projects across country.
The problem of Kajaki highlights an dilemma for Nato forces trying to use development to win hearts and minds in an area where construction work is impossible or hugely expensive.
When the dam was built by US engineers in the 1950s as part of the cold war gamesmanship with the Soviet Union two turbines were installed, but a third bay was constructed and left empty. The intention had been to put the turbine in that slot when it was delivered last year.
Smith-Sreen said USAID was satisfied with the work it has been able to do to rehabilitate the two existing turbines, which since October have been transmitting around 33 megawatts to the southern provinces – "more power than either Kandahar or Helmand has seen for 30 years".
However, the same fighting that has made the road leading to the dam insecure has also led to frequent blackouts for Kandahar city and Lashkar Gah, with the power transmission lines from the remote generating plant regularly cut.
"We've had to slice the line back together many times," he said.