Putin seems to be running out of soldiers for his war effort. In order not to recruit more Russian men, he apparently recruits soldiers from Afghanistan. They feel abandoned by the West after the Taliban took power.

The Taliban came, the West went – and in addition to a betrayed population, thousands of soldiers, some of whom were trained by US forces, remained in the country. This is what the Russian war machine is apparently aiming for, as reported by the “Foreign Policy” portal. Accordingly, elite members of the Afghan National Army are said to have received offers from the Russian government to fight in the war in Ukraine.

When the Taliban seized power in the country in 2021, it was estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 trained soldiers were left behind in Afghanistan. Only a few hundred high-ranking officers were evacuated by the United States. Thousands of fighters are said to have fled to neighboring countries for fear of repression by the Taliban. But they are threatened with unemployment there – and Russia now seems to want to take advantage of that.

Many of the soldiers are well trained, the USA alone invested 90 billion US dollars, sent trainers from the Navy Seal and the British Air Force. Although the Afghan army as a whole could not avert the Taliban takeover, the fighters could still be useful. A former high-ranking Afghan security official even speaks of a “game changer”, a turning point for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Putin would thus have solved a problem for the time being: Due to the high losses, the Russian President had to announce partial mobilization in the summer in order to get enough fighters to the front. In doing so, he carried what he trivializingly called a “special military operation” directly into Russian families, who now fear for their husbands and sons.

The Afghan official suspects that Putin veteran Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner mercenary group, which has been recruiting in Russian prisons, may be behind the recruitment attempts. According to current reports, far-right Prigozhin is said to be planning the establishment of parallel military structures in order to turn the war decisively violently in Moscow’s favour.

Former Afghan commanders report lure offers via the messenger services Whatsapp and Signal. “They have no land, no jobs, no future. You have nothing to lose,” commented one. While soldiers in Pakistan earn three dollars a day, “and then if Wagner or some other intelligence agency offers the men $1,000 a day if they fight again,” the commander continued, “they won’t refuse.”

Above all, soldiers who fled to Iran after the Taliban takeover could easily be flown to Russia by plane, it is said. There is a great lack of understanding about the former partners in the West. “For 18 years we have worked shoulder to shoulder on dangerous missions under American, British and Norwegian leadership,” said a 35-year-old ex-commander. “Now I’m hiding. I suffer every second.” So Putin’s Wagner army could have an easy time.

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