The Great Game. Russia's experience in
Afghanistan goes back in time - for over a century. In the 1800's Russia
competed against Britain in what was referred to as "The Great Game".
The British establishing an area of influence and a buffer zone from the
expansion of the Russian Empire from its enclave on the Indian
subcontinent. In turn, Russia - in its move eastward - extended its
influence in the Central Asian region up to the borders of Afghanistan;
in an attempt to counter the expansionist moves of Britain.
Map of Russia - adapted from CIA map
In recent history, the Soviet Union was an
enabler for the communist regime that took power later in the 20th
century and ultimately invaded Afghanistan in 1979 to keep that
communist regime in power. It then fought a long war fighting against
the mujahedeen until it retreated in 1989. The Soviet Union supported
the communist regime even after its retreat until the Soviet Union fell
apart into numbers independent nations.
With the rise of the Taliban and its fall Russia
has had a 'hands off' approach. For several years it quietly supported
the United States in the transport of logistics and supplies through its
transportation network but this was curtailed in later years.
News Stories about Russian and Afghanistan
April 11, 2017.
Russia Opens new Front in U.S. Rivalry With Taliban Support, by
Eltaf Najafizada and Henry Meyer, Bloomberg Politics.
April 10, 2017.
"The New Cold War Politics in Afghanistan", by Daud Khattak, The
Diplomat. Regional rivalries involving Pakistan, India, Russia and
China complicate an already dire security situation.
April 6, 2017.
The new Great Game: An all Asian game?, by Vikram Sood of the
Observer Research Foundation (ORF).
January 12, 2017.
"Russia Returns to Afghanistan", The National Interest.
Arif Rafiq explains Russia's pivot away from the U.S. and India and
towards China and Pakistan in regards to Afghanistan.
January 5, 2017.
"Russia and the Taliban: Strange and Worrisome Bedfellows", The
Huffington Post. Abdullah Sharif, a former U.S. diplomat and
current author, provides his perspective on Russia's seeming support of
January 3, 2017.
"Russia's New Favorite Jihadis: The Taliban", by Thomas Joscelyn,
The Daily Beast. Russia is courting the Taliban in an attempt
to undermine NATO and the United States in Afghanistan.
March 2, 2106.
"Russia's new role in Afghanistan", Deutsche Welle. More
than two decades after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Moscow is
once again seeking to play a major role in the country by boosting
military and economic cooperations with Kabul.
February 20, 2016.
"Russia Pulls Back From Cooperating With U.S. on Afghanistan",
The New York Times. "For all the conflicts in the world in which
Washington is at odds with Moscow, the deteriorating security situation
in Afghanistan has been one area where the Obama administration's
interests and Russia's concerns coincide." But now it appears that
Russia now is disengaging with the United States over Afghanistan.