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The Afghan commandos fighting for Putin

Franz Marty/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty

I’ve served as an American Special Forces soldier for 14 years, says Thomas Kasza in The New York Times. In Afghanistan, we Green Berets and the elite Afghan commandos we trained were a “bulwark” against the Taliban. But since our shameful departure from Kabul in 2021, many of my former comrades have been recruited to fight with the Russian army in Ukraine. For the 20,000 to 30,000 men we worked with, the offer of a steady salary and shelter from the new regime is “too good of a deal to pass up”.

I don’t blame them. Under the Taliban, those who safeguarded American troops are “actively hunted”, while Washington does nothing to protect them. Vladimir Putin, “suspect though his promises may be”, provides hope. If these guys fight for Russia, their families can live in better conditions, while earning the $1,500 signing-on bonus and citizenship of a country not led by the Taliban. For Putin, it’s a boon – these are highly trained, battle-hardened warriors, available on the cheap. The Taliban must also be rejoicing. “The most dangerous core for a resistance movement is fleeing the country.” After our withdrawal, I didn’t think there was any further “moral injury that could be inflicted on those of us who served or worked to save our allies”. With this “soul-sickening” revelation that our closest partners will now bleed for Russia, “here we are. Again.”