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Russia in Afghanistan

The US Central Command (CentCom) has a webpage up detailing “international contributions to the war on terror” by the members of the coalition against terror. Here’s some of what they have to say about Russia’s contribution in Afghanistan:

Russia started providing humanitarian assistance to the population of Afghanistan in October 2001. Russia has supported HA operations by transporting more than 420,296 tons of food commodities, 2,198 tons of medicines, 15,282 beds, 1,200 heaters, 13 mini electric power stations, 780 tents, 11,000 blankets, 49,674 bedding kits, 11,000 pieces of kitchen utensils, and nine tons of detergents.

That seems like quite a lot to me although, as the site has no comparative statistics, it’s hard to tell how Russia’s aid really compares to others.

But to get an idea of what its worth in dollar terms, I had a quick look at the price of grain per ton. (Note that these are very very rough calculations & I’m making the almost certainly wrong assumption that the food was grain). In 2001, Russian grain cost 1,200 roubles per ton. At an average of roughly 33 roubles to the dollar in 2001, that makes $36.36 per ton. Multiply that by the 420,296 tons donated by Russia and we have a value of $15,281,962. Not insignificant. When you also factor in that Russia is a lot poorer than most donating countries (US GDP in 2001 was roughly 12 times that of Russia), for the US to have donated equally generously it would have had to spend over $180 million. Again, not insignificant.

OK, so I was really bored tonight.

One other thing which struck me when I looked at the menu page for all the contributor countries: it’s very pretty, with flags for lots of counties, but there isn’t one for the USA. Which led me to wonder – is it an international coalition, with the US as a member? Or is it a US coalition, with international members?

Hat tip: Blogo Slovo for pointing me to the Centcom webpage.

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