Events Transcripts Policy Insight Video

Russia’s Approaches to Afghanistan and its Implications for Central Asia


A discussion by Stephen Blank, American Foreign Policy Council, and Amin Mudadiq, head of RFE/RL’s Pakistan Service


Stephen Blank:

It’s a pleasure to be here and to talk about Russia and Afghanistan.

I want to say first, what is Russia doing in Afghanistan? Then come to the why. And hopefully we’ll have time to discuss what it means.

First of all, since 2013, Moscow has been sharing intelligence with the Taliban. This is not something new. It starts at least four years ago, if not earlier.

Second, as U.S. commanders have now said, Moscow is transferring weapons to the Taliban. It’s also cooperating with Iran to promote the Taliban as a political movement in Afghanistan.

It is, third, strengthening its own military presence in Central Asia. What that means is, first of all, selling more subsidized weapons to Central Asia. It just recently announced a major deal with Uzbekistan, which is important because under Karimov there were very few such deals. Under the new government under Mirziyoyev there is obviously a better relationship and Russia is now selling weapons at presumably subsidized prices to Tashkent as well as to other governments in Central Asia and engaging military training exercises and educating officers in Moscow and things like that.

Beyond that, if you follow the Russian press, Moscow regularly exercises its forces in Central Asia and, with regard to potential scenarios that it thinks might develop in Central Asia, in other parts of Russia. And when it does this, and this is quite recent, we have now seen the transfer of new weapons or the use of new weapons in these exercises.  When I say new weapons, I mean weapons that have not been seen ever before in Central Asia. UAVs, that is Russian UAVs, because Americans have been doing this for some time.

And the Iskander missile in it’s conventional format, which is a very interesting development because as many of you know, the Europeans and the United States military is very worried about the Iskander. It’s a two-use missile and it comes in conventional and nuclear formats, and it can be used either as a ballistic missile or as a cruise missile. So they have learned from our use of missiles in Afghanistan and are experimenting with the idea of using Iskander, if they have to, in Central Asia and in Afghanistan. They are also thereby improving the quality if not the quantity of Russian forces in Central Asia.

Fourth, politically they have already begun to organize a “peace process.” I use the word “quotes” because I’m skeptical that it’s really going to bring about peace, or that it’s a real peace process in any sense of the word, among Russia, China, Pakistan, and Taliban. Notably, the Afghan government was not invited to the first meeting. When Kabul protested, they said, “Well, you can come to the second meeting,” but nothing has come about since that meeting, and it remains to be seen where this process is actually going. But the point is, as I said earlier, that Iran and Russia together are promoting the Taliban, and the idea of this “peace process” is that the solution to Afghanistan lies not in the current government, but in a reconstituted government that is a government of national reconciliation, that’s the Russian term, which the Taliban would take part.

This sounds to a historian all too reminiscent of the 1940s and other Soviet examples because it’s not clear to me, nor is it clear to U.S. commanders, that the Taliban have ceased to become terrorists and would play a responsible role as part of a future government in Afghanistan. Furthermore, with regard to Central Asia as a whole, the Russian Alliance, and I believe there is one, with China … As a matter of fact, the Russians asked for an alliance in 2014 with China against terrorism in Colour Revolution … They have tightened that alliance in Central Asia, despite the enormous literature that says that Russo-Chinese relations are bad or fractured or with fissures and they have all kinds of problems, and the opposite is actually happening. There are problems, many of them in Central Asia, but as Putin just said the other day, they’ve always worked to find common solutions, and this is very true in Central Asia as well.

Sixth, since 2012, Moscow has greatly improved its relationship with Pakistan. This is something important because Russian analysts used to say Pakistan was the most dangerous country in the world and the most dangerous proliferator. They had pretty good argument, given what we know about Pakistani policy and the nuclear dilemmas that come out of that policy. But since 2012, Russia has opened up major dialogue with Pakistan. They have sold it weapons. There are discussions about a second weapons sale, although nothing conclusive as of yet. There have been joint exercises. There is the talk of energy sales from Russia to Pakistan if they can figure out how to build a pipeline that will get Russian oil or gas to Pakistan. And Pakistan the other day announced that it is soliciting more Russian investment, particularly in energy, which they have a desperate need for. But again, there are many problems before this happens, but the statement itself is worthy of notice because it points to the larger question.

Furthermore, systematically in the last four years, Moscow, and this is clearly related to the broader degeneration or disintegration of Russo-American relations, has systematically cast out on the U.S. policy in Afghanistan, basically saying that “we don’t believe you can win”. This was particularly true under Obama, but it’s still going on. Every time the United States either says it’s going to leave or that more troops are going to be added, the Russians say, “You guys don’t know what you’re doing, troops aren’t going to be the answer, and you don’t have a coherent policy.” Whether or not they’re right is an interesting question, but this is certainly the line that the Russian government has taken.

Bearing all these developments in mind you have to ask yourself, “Why?” Because up until 2013 they supported the NATO operation in Afghanistan, and we even had a supply route – Northern Distribution Network, NDN, going through Russia to supply Afghanistan because there were a lot of concerns about relying exclusively on Pakistan, who has had a very rocky relationship with the United States under Obama and apparently still does. I would argue that the following considerations are what’s driving Russia.

2013 is the year in which ISIS makes its appearance on the world stage, and the Russians profess to be spooked by ISIS. They are clearly worried about the potential for ISIS to operate in Central Asia if Afghanistan falls to ISIS, which is rivaling the Taliban in Central Asia. And even more, should ISIS go to North Caucasus, they were so worried about it they actually opened the borders and let North Caucasus and Central Asian terrorists go through Russia to Syria to export the problem in 2013 and ’14. So this is a novel way to get rid of terrorists. You send them to another terrorist. You let them go to another terrorist theater and then claim you’re fighting terrorism.

They publicly had stated that they did not expect the Afghan government to survive, and that was three or four years ago. It’s still the case. It is very clear that they blame the U.S., expect it to lose, and have stated that basically they have no confidence in American strategy. And since the American strategy is really what NATO is carrying out, that’s a vote of no confidence in the larger NATO operation as a whole as well. So if you expect Afghanistan to fall, given the fact that they do have something of a domino theory in terms of threat assessment that if Afghanistan falls, Central Asia’s next, you want to strengthen your position in Central Asia and Afghanistan. Third, they believe that the Taliban are more responsible, that they are not interested in the areas outside of Afghanistan, and that if they have a share in the government, they will behave.

Now, this contradicts everything the Russians have been saying for over a decade about the fact that there’s no such thing as a good terrorist. Going back to the ’90s when the Chechen started, they were fulminating against everybody who said, “Well, there are good terrorists and bad terrorists,” or so they argued. But for them clearly the Taliban are good terrorists, and if you look at Russian policy towards terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere, they decide who the terrorist is. Just because we call somebody a terrorist doesn’t mean he is {for them}. Hamas, for example, are not terrorists, which will strike most Western and Israeli observers as a rather bizarre approach. The same is true, obviously, now with the Taliban. They are quasi-responsible if they are given a share. How this discovery came about, I’m at a loss to understand, but that’s forlorn.

They obviously are very worried about ISIS terrorism spreading, therefore, from Central Asia and through the North Caucasus. And they’re scared because one, because it could destabilize these areas, and even more, I would argue, because they don’t want to have to fight in Central Asia.

Russia makes a great deal out of the fact that it is the Ordnungsmacht, if you like, the security provider or power that creates order in Central Asia. But they don’t want to have to cash that check if it’s presented at the bank because, as those of us who have been doing this for a long timeб remember, they didn’t do so well the last time, and they know full well what the risks are in fighting in Central Asia and Afghanistan. And they would prefer not to have to do it under any circumstances, and particularly now, because they have reached the limit of their military resources. They actually had to cut military spending by a certain amount this year or at least reduce the rate of its growth.

So a fourth war in addition to North Caucasus, Syria, and Ukraine would be a very serious political, economic, and military affair and one they don’t want. Typically, Russia will start by making a major show of force while at the same time dealing with the Taliban under the table is their way of saying, “We are going to defend Central Asia but also we’re going to find a political solution that keeps the problem out of Central Asia.”

They therefore are showing, and this is a major point in overall Russian military policy, that they cannot afford a protracted war or don’t want to fight protracted wars anywhere. If Russia does get involved in a war, it wants to be able to move in and win quickly and bring about a fait accompli and a reasonably fast political solution at a low cost. Therefore, it is unwilling to have its bluff called as the protector of Central Asia because it might turn out that they cannot succeed in that role. And I don’t think they are fully confidant of the results if they get involved in a land war in Central Asia against terrorists or in Afghanistan because of what happened 30 or 40 years ago.

They see the U.S. as failing and they don’t want to be left with the responsibility, therefore, if we fail in Afghanistan, of having to pay that bill, as I suggested. And at the same time, they see their new policy of dealing with the Taliban and stigmatizing U.S. policy as a way of embarrassing Washington and then therefore it connects with the larger deterioration of Russo-American relations, and their general attacks on America as having a failed strategy and of intervening abroad and not knowing what it’s going to achieve and failing, therefore, to achieve anything positive  and thus making things worse. This strategy, therefore, also preserves at a reasonable cost Moscow’s military leadership in Central Asia precisely because its bluff doesn’t have to be called. So it can posture all it likes as the Central Asian military leader and no one is in a position to challenge it.

Now, the ties with Pakistan fit into this because Pakistan is the Taliban’s sponsor and protector and always has been. And therefore, if you want to deal with the Taliban, you understand that you have to deal with Pakistan because Pakistan has the power, as it has basically always had, to make sure that Afghanistan is not stable, particularly because the Pakistani government is, one might almost say, hysterical about the subject of Indian involvement in Afghanistan. They see India as striking at its “strategic hinterland”, that’s a Pakistani term, there by its involvement in Afghanistan. They see India behind all kinds of plots against it, and therefore the Taliban is its weapon against India and the Afghan government, which they regard as pro-Indian.

So by connecting with Russia, Pakistan gains a partner against India and the Russians gain a partner against India as well. Because the Russians are very worried that India is gravitating towards the United States, that India will turn to the United States rather than Russia as a major military partner in terms of arms sales. Economically, Russia can’t compete with what the U.S. has to offer India, and even militarily Russia can’t compete in terms of actual capabilities that the U.S. could deploy if crisis broke out in South Asia. And when these crises break out, both sides expect the United States to intervene to calm things down. They don’t expect or run to Moscow first. So Moscow is sending India a message, “Don’t get too close to Washington. Otherwise, we have options with Pakistan.” And while they claim that their relationship with Pakistan is not anti-Indian, it’s not seen that way in New Delhi.

As I said, Moscow sees the Taliban as therefore being solely an Afghani phenomenon. It’s not going to threaten Central Asia and that’s probably part of the understandings they have with the Taliban and therefore a reason for their support.

Beyond that, as I said, there’s a growing alliance, I think it even predates Ukraine, but certainly is accelerated after Ukraine, and a growing dependence on China. The dependence can be seen all across the board. It is very possible that the Chinese have talked to the Russians about improving ties with Pakistan given that China is the “all-weather friend” of Pakistan and would like to have its friends be friends with each other, especially because China and India are rivals. And this is another way for China indirectly to limit India’s capabilities in the subcontinent and keep it boxed in to where it is today. So Russia may well have been influenced by China in its larger thinking.

At the same time, given the decline relative to China in Russian capabilities, and the fact that Russia is clearly soliciting China to invest in Russia, and even for an alliance, it has to prove to China, and this is also true in East Asia, that it is a major power worthy of China’s interest and friendship. That it’s worthy of an alliance. And allies constantly in relationships have to prove they’re bona fides to the other side which is more powerful if they want that other side to take their interests into account and to take this relationship of alliance or comprehensive strategic partnership seriously. One way to do that is to show that we have a very good relation with Pakistan and that’s growing, and that we are also, like you, anti-American and working to stop the Americans.

Also, the Russians claim that they are afraid that NATO is going to be permanently involved in Afghanistan and that these bases are going to threaten Russia. I think that’s ridiculous if you look at the size of the NATO capability, even though the bases are there. Furthermore, Afghanistan is now the last place NATO wants to be, but anybody studying Russian security policy knows that from the beginning Russia sees itself as facing strategic encirclement. There used to be a phrase in the profession that Soviet Union was the only country in the world threatened by socialist encirclement of hostile states. Russia still sees itself in this light, and therefore you want to get NATO out and you want to play with Taliban as a way to do that.

Therefore, finally, Moscow, by virtue of this policy, states its claim to being an influential external player in whatever happens in the future in Afghanistan, despite 40 years of combat in Afghanistan. And however the war ultimately ends, it is by no means certain that Afghanistan will be spared the problem of the fact that its neighbors, and even states beyond its neighbors all see themselves as having a legitimate external influence in Afghanistan and an Afghan card to play in Afghanistan’s domestic politics. And for Russia, that’s the Taliban.

That’s the what and the why.

Amin Mudadiq

Thank you. My colleague explains all the academic parts. What I’m going to share is just my own observation. It’s not from the book. It’s not from what I have heard. As a person who has been involved in this region for so many years, from the time that I was working with U.S. Embassy in Pakistan for 15 years. And we have seen the Russian invasion, the Taliban, the Taliban collapse, and even up to now which we see is … in that context I will say a few words.

Actually, before touching on Afghanistan and Russia, I believe what is going on today is so much different from what was happening in ’80s and ’70s. At that time it was clearly an invasion and Afghan saw it as freedom fight and also religious via jihad. But now, it turns to be, clearly and day by day increasing, a proxy war. It’s not even a civil war. It is increasing to the extent that just last Friday, we were having our meeting, and one of my colleagues suggested that there is a new development going on in Baluchistan. A big mullah announced that they have established 15 collection points to raise money for the Taliban in one province. Not one or two but 15, which is impossible to hide from the higher intelligence.

I said, “Well, it could be part of the rumor that we are hearing in allegation and blame game. We cannot publish the story until we prove it.” They say, “But sir, the name of the mullah is known”. So two hours later, they came with a full statement of that mullah. He was saying the big … the Jamiyat mullah was saying that we are proudly establishing 15 points in the province of Baluchistan to collect the zakat during the holy month of Ramadan and give it to the Taliban. The mullah gave his name, his address, and everything. So we put the story in front of the interior minister of Baluchistan. He said “Well, this is something we have to check about.” When the phone was turned off, he himself called the headquarters. “You know who is calling the shots. Why you are disturbing me?”

So the interior minister of the province cannot do anything about it while the Pakistani establishment is pushing this merciless war. The country is burning. 34 provinces in Afghanistan are now in war. The presiding Afghan Army are launching up to 17 or 20 operations every day when they have almost nothing in their hand.

But on the other hand, we are confronting a nuclear power with a million men army with 75% budget of the whole country that they are consuming. What happened is that the Pakistani push with full force, destabilize more and more area of Afghanistan. They have an Afghan army out of the area, but the problem is they cannot control it. They are replacing regular Afghan and NATO presence with a kind of undisciplined militia, Taliban, who do not know how to stabilize and control the situation. The Taliban themselves are confessing that they are taking the territory but they cannot control it.

In just this last week, on three occasions they say that they have not done it. Yesterday there was a blast in the Herat mosque. Taliban said they have no idea. There was an attack in Kabul city in the south side. They brought an oil tanker full of explosive and put it on the street and then it exploded, with no target. Taliban said they are not involved. So on one hand, Pakistan’s connecting a naked interference, but their proxy cannot control the situation.

This is leading to more foreign interference and to more foreign militant presence, foreign involvement including Russia. This kind of situation, to destabilize an area and do not control it, brought Russia to Afghanistan. It brought IS to Afghanistan. It brought the Iranians to Afghanistan and they brought Chinese to Afghanistan, Turkish and many more. Otherwise, if there were a conventional war and two sides of the conflict, it would not include foreign power involvement.

The intensity of the war and the interference in the destabilization of the country is now, unfortunately, destabilizing a relatively secure part of Afghanistan which is northern Afghanistan. Northern Afghanistan these days is not only militarily destabilizing. It is politically destabilizing as well unfortunately because with the simultaneous interference on military side, there is an interference on political side as well.

In the past two months, we have seen in the north that the two main power players of the north, Commander Atta of Jamiat and Dostum. They are both in trouble. Dostum has left for Turkey as a part of reportedly a deal between the Afghan government and Turkey. His absence now provides a good opportunity for the Taliban to increase their power because Dostum was at least essential part rallying this militia group around him.

And Atta, if you probably heard, another strongman who was able to control northern Afghanistan, is now involved in a kind of internal struggle with the Jamiat Party, his own party. The Jamiat Party, which is kind of ruling party, second ruling party of Afghanistan, is divided into three parts. You have with Atta government, you have with Rabbani government, you have with Abdallah who is there.

On the other hand, the National Unity government also provided an opportunity for the Taliban and other actors and that has weakened the Afghan government as well. So you have a weak Afghan government, you have a destabilized situation, and you have more territory with no one in control. So, of course, the Russians are concerned. More and more territory in northern Afghanistan and the border with the Central Asian states are turning to no man’s land.

And IS jump into the situation in 2015 when they first appeared in Nangarhar. And then they started from Oruzgan. Let me tell you about how IS came to Afghanistan. When the Taliban were in power, many of the Central Asians, these jihadis or dissidents, mainly from IMU, they came to Afghanistan. They desired to be with the Taliban. In that context, Russian was wrong to believe that the Taliban are not dangerous, that they are good.

They came to Afghanistan to establish their bases. And then the Taliban collapsed in FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Area]. But after a few years, they developed differences with the local people because they have cultural differences. The people of the area has risen against them and they were driven out of the area. They came and established a presence in Oruzgan in southern Afghanistan. In southern Afghanistan, they also had some problems with the local Taliban. And then they thought that their presence here in southern Afghanistan, far away from the Central Asian states is meaningless. So they have started moving in two directions toward the Afghanistan border with Central Asian states.

One group, which were mainly the jihadis, the former jihadis and the affiliate of Al-Qaeda, they moved toward northeastern Afghanistan, which starts from Badakhshan and goes up to the Mazar-i-Sharif, Samangan and Kunduz. The other group, which is mainly IMU, they went to northwestern Afghanistan. They start from Jowzjan, Faryab, and Sar-e Pol. They are stationed there. They are there and they are doing recruitment, they are preparing for jihad.

And the other parts. The third part of Daesh, which established themselves in Nangarhar, they were the former Pakistani Taliban, which were defeated and then were regrouped by mysterious forces which are believed to be again Pakistanis who want them to serve as a Plan B for the Taliban.

So you have three kinds of Daesh in Afghanistan. The Pakistani Taliban, former Pakistan Taliban, defeated,  and they are in eastern Afghanistan. You have the former Central Asian jihadis and they are in northeastern Afghanistan. You have the purely IMU, who are now stationed in northwestern Afghanistan. So these three groups with three different agenda came to Afghanistan and in northern Afghanistan.

And of course, Russians have to be concerned. In that case, I believe the Russian concern is very much legitimate because the blame does not go to neither the NATO nor the Afghan government or not the international community. It’s all about Pakistan. Because when Pakistan destabilized the situation, the Afghan government cannot do anything, the international community cannot do anything, the Russians cannot do anything. So the result is the growing militant presence in northern Afghanistan. When the vacuum is created, everybody jump in.

So that’s why I think in 2015 the first Russian interference was seen when they established a big center in Zahedan, city of Iran. That center is called Al-Ansar, in which Iranian and Russians and the Taliban are coordinating their routes. The former Taliban chief, Mansour, was there to establish, to inaugurate the center. When he was coming back he was hit by the drone you [US] sent. How do we know this? Taliban splinter group, a breakaway from the Taliban, they discovered this through their own prints, and they say that the Russians and Iranians and the Taliban regularly meet in the Zahedan center, which is called Al-Ansar. The Russians are there to stop Daesh in that part of the country. And then the Taliban representative pick the arms from that area and bring it to western Afghanistan. So in that case, Russians and Iran are protecting their own interest for that region.

Now, today, in northwestern Afghanistan the Russians are dealing with the Taliban to stop Daesh or IS presence in these provinces with mainly border with Tajikistan. Badakhshan, Takhar, Kunduz have border with Tajikistan. In that part, there are former jihadis who have separate camps, but they are under the control of Taliban. IS and Taliban have a different kind of relation. In eastern Afghanistan, which is Nangarhar, Daesh or IS and Taliban are fighting each other. They are enemies. Because they know that they are Plan A and Plan B. And they are fighting for territory and they know that if one is defeated the other will catch the eye of the master.

In northeastern Afghanistan, in Badakhshan, the IS or Daesh if it’s easy to pronounce, is working under the Taliban, mainly because on one hand, the Taliban are enjoying full support of the Russians. The second reason is that the Taliban commands in northeastern Afghanistan is under Pashtuns, mainly. Mainly Pashtuns are calling the shots in northeastern Afghanistan in the Taliban ranks. The center is Kunduz but along this top Taliban commanders are Pashtun. So Pashtuns does not allow them to take more role or to take more control of the situation. On other hand, it has a border with Russia. It’s much easy for the Russians to cross the Amu River and give them the support. So in that part, the Russians are pretty much safe because they have the contact with the Taliban, Taliban have upper hand.

But what the Russians worried about is northwestern Afghanistan. Because in northwestern Afghanistan, on one hand, we have a more centralized Daesh, which is IMU. The son of Tahir Yuldash, Malik, is stationed in Sar-e Pol province, Sayyad district. So one of the commanders who met him told my friend that Malik has 400-500 people and he was logistically in a very good position: in the shoes and the clothes and the weapons. And he said that Malik told him that he’s not going to start until he’s fully prepared. So the Russians are worried about them because they are far away from the Central Asia borders. This mountainous area located in the center of the north, the Russians cannot reach them from the Afghan-Tajik border, nor from Afghan-Uzbek border.

And the second reason that they are concerned is that in that part, the Taliban and Daesh have equal status. The reason is because the Taliban leadership and the Daesh leadership both are Uzbek. So Uzbek, because of the ethnic structures, cannot force the fellow Uzbek to suppress Daesh. In one village you see half of the village is with Daesh and half of the village is with the Taliban. And both are the same tribe. This is not the situation in eastern Afghanistan and also this is not the situation in northeastern Afghanistan. Because in northeast, they are culturally different, they are ethnically different, so they cannot have much … And also, as I said, the Russians are giving them supplies through the Afghan-Tajik border very easily.

So this is the situation. And to add to that is that the destabilization of the Afghan forces … Afghan strongmen or strong parties in northern Afghanistan. So these two scenarios are giving a lot of concern to the Russians because on one hand, you see the Afghan’s government structure is falling apart. The main parties are in trouble, the Jamiat and Junbish of Dostum. One strongman left the country, another strongman is involved in internal strife. On the other hand, the Daesh has almost upper hand to the Taliban. In the past two months, there were continuous fighting between Daesh and Taliban in this northwestern Afghanistan, in Sar-e Pol and area in Jowzjan.

On many occasions, the Taliban were badly defeated. That’s why this question of two helicopters … helicopters landing in the north came in. Just before coming to U.S., I fully investigated this at least to estimates, to guess who these two helicopters belonged to. There were two theories. One was that these are American helicopters. They are supplying Daesh to stregthen them against the Taliban. The other theory was no, these are Russian helicopters who came here to support the Taliban because the Taliban were being defeated consequently by Daesh.

My conclusion was, after talking to too many people of the area, say that the area where the helicopter landing are not controlled by the Daesh. They are purely controlled by the Taliban. So Daesh is much much away from the area of this Sayyad, where the helicopter landed. And the landing is proven. The Afghan government, the Deputy Chief of Army Staff, when he visited the area he confirmed it. The governor of Sar-e Pol confirmed it, yes. And also the governor Atta. They all confirmed that the helicopter landed. But everybody’s tight-lipped. Nobody said who this helicopter belonged to. But the evidence shows that it is of course Russians. Because that area is very flat and the helicopters can fly in 2,000 feet altitude to reach that area.

So it’s very much possible that it is Russian helicopter, mainly because they are worried that if Taliban are defeated there, as in the past two months I said frequently the Taliban are losing ground to Daesh. It’s even to the extent that two weeks ago we had a report from Faryab that a dozen of Daesh family came to an area and started building houses where the area is under the control of Taliban. But the Taliban could not tell them anything. It’s because of the ethnic structure. In some areas, we are just turning a blind eye. But in some area, in northwestern Afghanistan, IS is gaining ground.

What we are concerned about, if the if not all of  northwestern Afghanistan, so they could easily reach the Afghan-Uzbek border. The Afghan-Tajik border is far away. And Afghan-Turkmen border is a bit calm, merely probably because the Turkmens have less militants in Daesh or in Taliban. And also they enjoy a good relation with the Taliban and they take their injured people. But the real worry and the real problem is here, in north.

To sum up, the Russian had a deal with the Iranians in order to stop IS in southern Afghanistan. The Russian had a deal with the Taliban to stop the Taliban from going in northeastern Afghanistan. And the Russians are now dropping bombs from helicopter to area of Sar-e Pol and of northwestern Afghanistan in order to stop the Taliban defeat or to stop the IS to take over the area.

My conclusion is that the bottom line and the root of the problem is if the Pakistan interference does not stop, neither Russian can win this war, nor NATO can win this war, nor Afghan government. Because they keep sending arms, ammunition, and money in a way that it’s like an open war. So as long as they are still destabilizing the situation, the Afghan government will be in constant fighting, NATO will be in constant fighting. Many many foreign fighters and foreign elements may jump in and get involved because it’s a no man’s land. It’s a completely chaotic situation. For foreign fighters, for foreign militants, for bad guys, this is an ideal situation.


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