Putin says US achieved ‘zero’ in Afghanistan

Russian leader says 20-year occupation resulted in ‘sheer tragedies and losses’ for Washington and the Afghan people.

Captain Melvin Cabebe with the US Army's 1-320 Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division stands near a burning M-ATV armoured vehicle after it struck an improvised explosive device (IED) near combat outpost Nolen in the Arghandab Valley north of Kandahar, Afghanistan, on July 23, 2010 [File: Bob Strong/Reuters]

The United States’ 20-year campaign in Afghanistan ended in tragedies and Washington achieved nothing, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said, adding that the US army’s attempt to ingrain their norms in Afghanistan was futile.

Speaking on Wednesday at a meeting with teenagers in the Russian far eastern city of Vladivostok to mark the start of the school year, he said: “American troops were present on that territory (of Afghanistan) for 20 years, and over those 20 years they were trying – this can be said without offending anyone – to civilise the local people, but in fact, to impose their norms and standards of life in the broadest sense of this word, including the political organisation of society.

“The only result is tragedies and losses for those who were doing that – for the United States – and especially for the people who live on the territory of Afghanistan. This is a zero result, if not negative.”

It is “impossible to impose anything from outside”.

The Russian leader has a track record of criticising Western countries for trying to impose their values on non-Western nations and Moscow has regularly slammed US policy in Afghanistan, which is now controlled by the Taliban after its takeover.

The group shocked Western leaders and observers with its rapid advance ahead of the American pullout on August 31.

Last week, Putin said Russia would not interfere in Afghanistan and that Moscow had learned from the Soviet occupation of the country. Moscow fought a 10-year war in Afghanistan that ended with the Soviet troops’ withdrawal in 1989.

Putin has also complained about Western countries trying to place Afghan refugees in Moscow-allied Central Asian states, fearing that “radical Islam” would spill over into nations he is friendly with.

At the same time, Moscow has been cautiously optimistic about the new leadership in Kabul, saying it would not meddle in domestic affairs. But at home, the Taliban is still registered as a “terrorist” organisation.

Russia has evacuated hundreds of people from Afghanistan and plans to lay on further flights, while Putin’s special representative on Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said last week that Moscow’s embassy was working to establish relations with Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers.

Russia was ready to help rebuild Afghanistan’s economy, Kabulov said, urging Western nations not to freeze the Afghan government’s financial assets.

“We are establishing ties (with Taliban officials), our embassy in Kabul is working quite actively on this,” he told Russian state television. “We have had such contacts for a long time and we will work further on them.”

Recently, a Russian official dismissed any resistance efforts to the Taliban, saying there is no real alternative to the group.

Source: News Agencies