Russian President Vladimir Putin has asserted the United States ignored Afghanistan’s history and culture when it invaded, as he lamented what he said was a tragedy in the country.
Putin spoke on October 13 at a Moscow energy forum, just days before Russia was to host members of the Taliban-led government for talks on Afghanistan’s future.
“Freedom and democracy, they cannot be disconnected from the culture and traditions of a certain people,” Putin said, responding to a question from the forum moderator. “The United States intruded into Afghanistan in defiance of the traditions, culture, and history of the Afghan people. The result was tragic.”
Putin made no mention of Moscow’s own history in Afghanistan, beginning with the 1979 Soviet invasion to bolster the communist government in Kabul. After the Soviets withdrew in 1989, Afghanistan descended into chaos and civil war, before the Taliban took control of the country in the mid-1990s for the first time.
Russia was also a quiet supporter of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, giving approval for Washington to use bases in Central Asia, and Russian supply routes to help equip U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
In August 2021, nearly 20 years after the U.S. invasion, the United States withdrew its forces, and the Taliban swept to power and seized Kabul as the Western-backed government collapsed.
Though Russia has outlawed the Taliban as a terrorist group, Moscow has sought to capitalize on the U.S. withdrawal and build ties with the new government in Kabul.