| 24 April 2024, Wednesday |

Russia’s Putin says U.S. Afghan foray achieved nothing but tragedy

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the US military operation in Afghanistan had resulted in nothing but sorrow and loss of life on both sides, demonstrating that imposing foreign ideals on other countries was impossible.

Putin made it plain to adolescents visiting an educational center in Russia’s far east that the US approach to a country that was once conquered by the Soviet Union was fundamentally wrong.

“U.S. forces were present on this territory for 20 years and for 20 years tried … to civilize the people who live there, to instill their own norms and standards of life in the widest possible sense of this word, including when it comes to the political organization of society,” said Putin.

“The result is only tragedies and losses of life for those who did it, the United States, and even more so for those people who live on the territory of Afghanistan. The result is zero, if not a negative one all round.”

The final U.S. forces pulled out of Afghanistan on Monday and U.S. President Joe Biden spoke on Tuesday of the end of an era of major military operations to remake other countries.

The U.S. exit is a security headache for Moscow, which sees nearby former Soviet Central Asia as part of its southern defensive flank and fears the spread of radical Islamism.

Moscow has reinforced its military base in Tajikistan, which neighbors Afghanistan, and its forces are holding a month of exercises near the border.

Though some Russian state media have reveled in what they have cast as a catastrophic U.S. geopolitical failure, gloating has been tempered by the fact that the Soviet Union was also forced to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan in 1989 after a decade of fighting there.

Russia’s security chiefs have made clear they are deeply worried about a potential spill-over of instability into Central Asia, the possible infiltration of extremists into the wider region including Russia, and Afghan drug production.

Putin, who has previously said that Moscow has learnt the lessons of the Soviet Union’s own Afghan debacle and has no plans to deploy troops there, said it was important to take into account the history, culture, and philosophy of life of people like the Afghans when dealing with them.

“It’s not possible to foist anything on them from the outside,” said Putin.

  • Reuters