Russian envoy cautions US on Afghan troops surge
Kabul: Russia's ambassador to Afghanistan has some advice for top NATO commanders fighting the Taliban based on the Soviet Union's bitter experience battling Islamist insurgents here in the 1980s: Don't bring more troops.
"The more troops you bring the more troubles you will have here," Zamir Kabulov, a blunt-spoken veteran diplomat, told media in an interview.
In 2002, he noted, there were roughly 5,000 US soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and the Taliban controlled just a small corner of the country's southeast.
"Now we have Taliban fighting in the peaceful Kunduz and Baghlan (provinces) with your (NATO's) 100,000 troops," he said this week, sitting on a couch in the Russian Embassy in Kabul. "And if this trend is the rule, if you bring here 200,000 soldiers, all of Afghanistan will be under the Taliban."
Kabulov served as a Soviet diplomat in Afghanistan from 1983 to 1987, during the height of the Kremlin's 10-year Afghan war, when Soviet troop levels peaked at 140,000.
The Soviet war here, which is estimated to have cost the lives of 14,500 Soviet soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Afghans, ended in 1989 in a humiliating withdrawal.
Kabulov has little sympathy for the US or NATO. He said the US and its allies are competing with Russia for influence in the energy-rich region.