As the US and its allies are pulling troops out of Afghanistan, the Afghan government is looking to Russia for more military support. Afghan Ambassador to Russia Said Tayeb Jawad told Russia’s Tass News Agency that Kabul hopes Moscow can boost its support for the Afghan forces.
“We are hoping that Russia will consider repairing the existing Russian equipment, especially helicopters,” he said. For years, the US has been providing the Afghan military with Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters. From 2011 to 2013, the US bought 73 Mi-17s for the Afghan military.
After the US slapped sanctions on Russia over Crimea in 2014, Washington relied on India to purchase Russian-made helicopters for Afghanistan. US sanctions prohibit Western countries from purchasing Russian-made military equipment.
Besides providing helicopters, Russia has also given Afghan government personnel military training. “Our cadets are getting training here, especially from the Ministry of Interior, which is good,” Jawad said. The Ministry of Interior is the Afghan government’s law enforcement department and includes the Afghan National Police.
Jawad said he also hopes Russia will provide an opportunity to train Afghan pilots and mechanics. While the US and NATO are pulling troops out of Afghanistan, the Western powers plan to continue supporting the Afghan government financially and are considering training Afghan troops outside of the country.
While it may be limited, Russia’s support for the Afghan government shows that Washington and Moscow are on the same side of the conflict. Over the past year, most Western media coverage involving Russia and Afghanistan has been over the now-debunked claim that Russia paid bounties to militants in Afghanistan to kill US troops.
Russia also encouraged the negotiations that led to the US-Taliban peace deal that was signed in Doha in February 2020. Since that agreement was inked, no US troops have died in combat in Afghanistan.