MOSCOW - Russia does not believe that US President Donald Trump’s new strategy on Afghanistan will lead to any significant positive changes in the country, the Interfax news agency cited an unnamed Russian Foreign Ministry source as saying on Tuesday.

Trump on Monday committed the United States to an open-ended conflict in Afghanistan, reversing course from his campaign pledges and signaling he would send troops to America’s longest war in “a fight to win.”

The head of US and international forces in Afghanistan said on Monday the United States’ future presence in Afghanistan would be based on “conditions and not arbitrary timelines”. “This new strategy means the Taliban cannot win militarily. Now is the time to renounce violence and reconcile,” General John Nicholson said in a statement.

President Donald Trump opened the door on Monday night to an increase in US troops in Afghanistan as part of a retooled strategy for the region, overcoming his own doubts about America’s longest war and vowing “a fight to win.”

Germany not first in line

to send more troops

Germany will not immediately send more troops to Afghanistan in response to US President Donald Trump’s request for more backing as it increased its presence last year at a time when others were cutting, the defence minister said.

Ursula von der Leyen welcomed Trump’s commitment to continuing the US mission, but said Germany would not be among the first nations to contribute more.

“We increased our troop numbers by 18 percent last year when others were cutting theirs,” she said during a visit to a submarine base in north Germany on Tuesday. “So we don’t see ourselves in the front row of people who should be asked for more soldiers.” Having run for the White House last year on a pledge to withdraw swiftly from Afghanistan, Trump reversed course on Monday and promised a stepped-up military campaign against Taliban insurgents, saying: “Our troops will fight to win”.

US officials said he had signed off on plans to send about 4,000 more US troops to add to the roughly 8,400 now deployed in Afghanistan.

No haven for terrorists

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday welcomed US President Donald Trump’s plan to send additional troops to Afghanistan, saying the alliance would not let the country become a haven for terrorists.

“Our aim remains to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists who would attack our own countries,” he said in a statement.

“I welcome President Trump’s new, conditions-based approach to Afghanistan and the region,” Stoltenberg added, noting that Nato has over 12,000 soldiers stationed in the country.

Trump on Monday cleared the way for the deployment of thousands more US troops to Afghanistan, backtracking from his promise to swiftly end America’s longest war, begun after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

He said that pulling out of Afghanistan would leave a “vacuum” that terrorists “would instantly fill”.

He did not specify how many soldiers could be sent, but said the assistance was “not a blank check” for the Afghan government. “We are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists,” Trump said.

Stoltenberg reiterated that Nato had transferred security responsibilities to Afghan forces in 2014, saying the country now had about 350,000 soldiers and police. More than 15 countries had pledged additional contributions to the alliance’s mission in the country, he said. “I am looking forward to discussing the way ahead with Secretary Mattis and our Allies and international partners,” Stoltenberg said, referring to US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

Britain welcomes renewed commitment

Britain on Tuesday welcomed a commitment by US President Donald Trump to step up the military campaign against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

President Trump committed the United States to an open-ended conflict in Afghanistan on Monday night, reversing course from his campaign pledges.

Britain along with other European allies pledged more troops to support Afghanistan’s military in June, with US Secretary of Defence James Mattis saying at the time that troop numbers in the country had been reduced too rapidly.

“The US commitment is very welcome,” British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said in a statement.

“In my call with Secretary Mattis yesterday we agreed that despite the challenges, we have to stay the course in Afghanistan to help build up its fragile democracy and reduce the terrorist threat to the West.

“It’s in all our interests that Afghanistan becomes more prosperous and safer: that’s why we ?announced our own troop increase back in June.”