In early 1989 the last Soviet troops fled Afghanistan, capping a failed ten year occupation that cemented the nation’s reputation as the Graveyard of Empires in the modern context. That bloody war is still fresh in the minds of many Russians, but increasingly not so with top officials, who are looking for a way back in.
“We want to help stabilize the situation. We would do anything short of military involvement,” insisted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, insisting the government is eager to provide helicopters and engineers to help with the US-led occupation, itself tottering on the brink of failure some nine years in.
With NATO forces now occupying many of the same bases and backing many of the same crooked politicians that the Soviets once did, Russian officials are said to fear the deleterious effect another failed war would have along the Russian frontier.
Yet Russia, unlike the Soviet Union, does not border Afghanistan, and the end of the Soviet occupation was not followed, despite many predictions to the contrary, with a flurry of external attacks by the victorious insurgency. Rather the group ousted the government and then settled into fighting amongst themselves. If the fears of the predicted “Taliban attacks” resulting from NATO’s exit are really the problem which is prompting Russian involvement (which would almost certainly involve a formal military presence later, to the protect the non-military presence), they seem to fly in the face of historical evidence.
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