Russia is recruiting Afghan special forces who fought alongside the United States to fight in Ukraine.
Posted on 1.11.2022
According to the US news agency AP, quoting former Afghan generals: “Afghan special forces soldiers who fought alongside the Americans, then fled to Iran after the chaotic US withdrawal, are being recruited by Moscow to fight in Ukraine”.
The Guardian reports that Russia is recruiting Afghan special forces who fought with the United States to fight in Ukraine.
Afghan special forces soldiers who fought alongside US troops and then fled to Iran after the chaotic US withdrawal last year are now being recruited by the Russian military to fight in Ukraine, three former generals say Afghans to the Associated Press.
According to them, the Russians want to lure thousands of former elite Afghan commandos into a “foreign legion” by offering them regular payments of $1,500 a month and promising them a safe haven for themselves and their families to that they can avoid being deported to what many believe will be death at the hands of the Taliban.
“They don’t want to go to fight, but they have no choice,” said one of the generals, Abdul Raof Arghandiwal, adding that the dozen commandos in Iran he has exchanged text messages with mostly fear the expulsion. They ask me: “Give me a solution? What do we have to do ? If we go back to Afghanistan, the Taliban will kill us.’ »
Arghandiwal said the recruitment was led by Russian mercenary force Wagner Group. Another general, Hibatullah Alizai, the last Afghan army chief before the Taliban took over, said the effort was also supported by a former Afghan special forces commander who lived in Russia and speaks the language. .
The recruitment of Russians follows months of warnings from US soldiers who fought with Afghan special forces that the Taliban intended to kill them and that they might join US enemies in staying in life or out of anger against their former ally.
“We didn’t get these individuals out as we promised, and now it’s homecoming,” said Michael Mulroy, a retired CIA officer who served in Afghanistan, adding that the Afghan commandos were fierce and highly skilled fighters. “I don’t want to see them on any battlefield, frankly, but certainly not fighting the Ukrainians.”
Details of the effort were first reported by Foreign Policy magazine last week, based on unnamed Afghan military and security sources. The recruitment comes as Russian forces back down from Ukrainian military advances and Russian President Vladimir Putin continues a flagging mobilization effort that has prompted nearly 200,000 Russian men to flee the country to escape service.
The Russian Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for Yevgeny Prigozhin, who recently admitted being the founder of the Wagner Group, dismissed the idea of a continued effort to recruit former Afghan soldiers as “crazy nonsense”.
The US Department of Defense also did not respond to a request for comment, but a senior official suggested the recruitment was not surprising given that Wagner tried to recruit soldiers from several other countries.
It is unclear how many Afghan special forces personnel who fled to Iran were courted by the Russians, but one told the AP he was communicating through the WhatsApp chat service with around 400 other commandos studying the offers.
The commando said its offer included Russian visas for himself as well as his three children and his wife who are still in Afghanistan. Others have been offered extensions of their visas in Iran. He said he was waiting to see what other members of WhatsApp groups decide, but he believed many would accept the offer.
American veterans who fought with Afghan special forces described to the AP nearly a dozen cases, none of which have been independently confirmed, of the Taliban going from house to house in search of commandos still in the the country, torturing or killing them, or doing the same with members of their families.
Human Rights Watch said more than 100 former Afghan soldiers, intelligence operatives and police had been killed or forcibly “disappeared” just three months after the Taliban seized power, despite promises of amnesty.
The brother of an Afghan commando in Iran who accepted the Russian offer said threats from the Taliban made it difficult to refuse. He explained that his brother had to hide for three months after the fall of Kabul, shuttling between the homes of his relatives while the Taliban searched his house.
“My brother had no choice but to accept the offer,” said the commando’s brother, Murad, who only wants to give his first name for fear the Taliban might find him. “It was not an easy decision for him.”
A former soldier sent a text to Arghandiwal, which reads: “You receive military training in Russia for two months, then you go to the battle lines.”