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Russia’s Role 32 Years after Military Invasion in Afghanistan

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KABUL: General Boris Vsevolodovich Gromov crossed the Oxus River as the last Soviet troop to leave Afghanistan on February 14, 1989 and to end a nine-year of military invasion of Afghanistan.

13,000 of 100,000 Soviet soldiers serving in the Afghan war were killed and 35,000 others wounded and maimed. The war also took hundreds of thousands victims from Afghans, while millions fled the country.

This was the intensive part of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States with their allies.

Although the Soviet Union ended invasion of Afghanistan, but the war continues till now, with the Soviet’s old rival the US having troops on the ground since a 2001 invasion in the pretext of war on terror that pushed the Taliban out.

Finally, the United States agreed to come in peace with the Taliban by signing a peace deal last year. Now, the government of Afghanistan is busy in a weak negotiation with the insurgents.

A question comes to minds about Russia’s role and stance as the Soviet replacement in the fresh developments in Afghanistan particularly in the peace efforts.

“Russians have had meetings with the Taliban and this indicates that Moscow supports peace progress in Afghanistan and they consider it in their interest. Fighting against Daesh and other terrorist groups in the Central Asian states, counternarcotics, border security, Central Asia’s security and relations with China and Iran as the US rivals are important for Russia geopolitically,” said Omar Samad, a political analyst in the Atlantic Council.

But Farooq Farda, a journalist based in Moscow believes that Russia has its regional interests behind supporting Taliban.

“Russia should presently act on Afghan peace as an independent country, but it takes measure in compromise with Iran and Pakistan that will not show a green signal either in near or far future. Kabul and Moscow are not in relations that are expected to be and this is the result of crocked policies by Russian politicians,” Farda said.

“Traditionally, Russia sees Central Asian states as its own region for influences. There are huge resources of oil and gas thus Moscow has always tried to maintain its influence on that region. The United States plans to reduce its influence on Afghanistan, Central Asia and Middle East and this will leave a power vacuum, so Russia uses this vacuum and this will help Russia to emerge once again as a powerful player in the region,” said Aref Sahar, a researcher on international security and counter-terrorism in London.

He said that Russia is arming and financing Taliban to weaken US in Afghanistan.

The Taliban reject allegations over Russia’s support, with the insurgents’ spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, saying that their fighters receive no weapons from outside, but they use the arms they have gained in the battle ground from Afghan forces and those weapons they have possessed from the past years.

“The neighboring and regional countries have important roles on the peace process in Afghanistan. Iran, Pakistan and others including Russia are influential in this process. So their consensus is a must and the government of Afghanistan is working to form this consensus,” Najia Anwari, spokeswoman of the state ministry for peace affairs said.

Russia has frequently announced support for the US efforts to put an end in the Afghan war.

Taliban leaders have visited Moscow many times where they met Russian officials to discuss situation in Afghanistan.

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