AAN Senior Analyst Thomas Ruttig reviews the developments of the past decades of relations, mainly from the perspective of Russian sources and opinions, specifically how the Russians look at Afghanistan and how they define Russia’s interests there.
Over a year ago, in April 2013, a high-ranking official of the government in Moscow, Sergei Koshelev, the head of the international co-operation department of the Russian defence ministry, aired the idea of creating Russian ‘maintenance bases’ in Afghanistan for Soviet- and Russian-made military equipment widely used by the Afghan armed forces.
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Many Afghans have even started looking back more favourably at achievements of Soviet-Afghan cooperation, both pre-1978 and, although the experience of the occupation still weighs heavily on their minds, the 1979–92 period.
Even some of the Soviets’ toughest former Afghan opponents accept the view that Moscow has distanced itself from its USSR past and that the Russians’ “Afghan syndrome,” acknowledged even by Russian scholars, makes a military return very unlikely.
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(1) Koshelev’s statement sparked wild speculation about whether that meant Russia would try to make a comeback in Afghanistan and would go so far as to redeploy military personnel in the country.
This strategy is based on an about-face under Yeltsin: dropping Najibullah and building a relationship with the mujahedin, beginning in 1992.
In recent years, mounting Afghan-US and Russian-US tensions have made governments in Kabul and Moscow more interested in each other.
The Russian senator Olga Kovitidi said that, under Trump, the U. would be certain to recognize the Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region—a move that led to U. Sergei Glazev, a senior Kremlin adviser, said that Trump, “as a pragmatic person,” would be sure to lift those sanctions. President in recent history has expressed such a clear desire to turn inward and roll back American military and political commitments around the world.
Read More: Economists Warn of Global Recession Following Trump Victory But with all these changes in the air, why was Putin so careful to stress how hard the road to rapprochement would be? Or it could just be the caution that comes with experience. “Trump is the American hangover after a quarter-century binge on power,” says Lukyanov. Untangling that mess will represent an enormous challenge for the Trump Administration, and he does not seem likely to bother too much with problems of foreign affairs over the next few months, says Alexander Konovalov, an expert on U. “The problem surrounding Ukraine and Syria will remain,” he says.