Putin starts a new game in Afghanistan

Alexander Kovalev is still very well remembers how he was wounded at the withdrawal of his regiment from Afghanistan 28 years ago. The bullets shattered the bones in his right leg. After surgery without anesthesia there was a gangrene. The captain of the Soviet army, who was then 32 years old, I was afraid to lose his leg.


The aircraft was taken to Kabul to the hospital, and from there further to Tashkent, where he saved his leg. The Afghan war was over for him. “Nothing we were there to do,” he said today about their former feelings. “It was clear that we will not be able to build socialism in a feudal country.” On Wednesday, Kovalev, Chairman of the “Committee on Affairs of Warriors-Internationalists”, celebrated the 28th anniversary of withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.

The Afghan war remains a trauma that is not forgotten in today’s Russia. It affected a whole generation of young men in the Soviet Union. After this experience the fear of a long, debilitating war abroad was very noticeable. However, despite this the veterans like Kovalev, believe that Russia has no right to forget its own interests in Afghanistan. “Yeltsin is not a good thought when he stopped supplying fuel and equipment to the Mohammad Najibullah (Mohammed Nadschibullah), the last Communist President of Afghanistan, he said. If we continue to supply them, now in Afghanistan would be more friendly regime.”


Russia is closely watching the situation in Afghanistan. On the one hand, great concern about the fact that the terrorist organization “Islamic state” (organization banned in Russia — approx. transl.) there will strengthen their positions and pose a threat to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. On the other hand, Moscow would increase its political influence in Afghanistan and to act as a world power, while the United States retreated from world politics. “Russia is getting ready to start a new independent game in Afghanistan, the objectives of which are partially comparable to those that were made military participation in Syria,” — wrote in this regard, the expert on Central Asia Arkady Dubnov.


To expand its influence in Afghanistan, Russia is negotiating with their former enemies — the Taliban (organization banned in Russia — approx. transl.). In December last year, the Russian Commissioner for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said that the interests of Russia and the Taliban “objctive the same,” when it comes to the fight against ISIL. According to him. The Taliban is a “national liberation movement” for which the Americans are “occupiers.” Russia has its own channels for negotiations with the Taliban, he said.


In the United States and Kabul have responded anxiously. On the anniversary of withdrawal of Soviet troops Abdul Rauf of Ebrahimi (Abdul Rauf Abrahimi), speaker of the lower house of the Afghan Parliament, warned Russia against “history repeating itself with support of the Taliban”. Another parliamentarian, Abdul wadood Paiman (Payman Abdul Wadud) reproached Russia that it is through Tajikistan supplies the Taliban with weapons. “Russia supports the Taliban and is trying to legalize it,” said U.S. General John Nicholson (John Nicholson) a week ago. Also U.S. Senator John McCain (John McCain) has spoken on this subject. According to him, weapons to the Taliban supplies the ally of Russia in Syria Iran.


It from Moscow said that contacts with the Taliban only need to bring them to the negotiating table. When Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in early February, took in Moscow, his Afghan colleague, he said after the meeting that “joint position” is, “to engage the Taliban in constructive dialogue.” Russia tries herself in the role of mediator. On Wednesday, the Russian foreign Ministry met the representatives of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China and Iran to talk about the situation in Afghanistan. At a similar meeting in Moscow in December last year, the Afghan representatives were not invited, which caused discontent in Kabul. Now it veers between different players.


Attempts to de-legitimize the Taliban in Russian public opinion sometimes lead to funny situations. Close to the Kremlin tabloid newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda” published earlier in the week an interview with “a member of the leadership of the Taliban by Sayed Mohammad Akbar Agha”. In reality, Akbar Agha, a former member of the movement and no longer has anything to do with them. In an interview with “the leader of the Taliban”, said: “If Russia will help us with money or weapons, it will worsen its relations with the Afghan people.” Thus, he supports Moscow’s line that officially denies that it is supplying the Taliban weapons. The Taliban supposedly wants “friendship with Russia,” Agha said. And Afghanistan is closer to Russia than the United States.


Omar Nassar (Omar Nessar), an Afghan who runs the “Center for studies of modern Afghanistan,” met frequently with the real Akbar Agha. “I have the impression that this interview is written somewhere in other place, he can’t talk,” he says.