Russia is reportedly recruiting Afghan special forces soldiers — who fought alongside American troops before the U.S. pulled out its forces from Afghanistan in 2021 — to fight Vladimir Putin‘s war in Ukraine.
What Happened: Afghan soldiers who fled to Iran after the chaotic U.S. withdrawal led to the Taliban taking over their country are now being recruited by the Russian military, three former Afghan generals told The Associated Press.
“They don’t want to go fight — but they have no choice,” one of the generals, Abdul Raof Arghandiwal, was quoted as saying. Arghandiwal added that the dozen or so commandos in Iran with whom he has texted fear deportation.
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AP’s sources said that Putin wants to attract thousands of former elite Afghan commandos into a “foreign legion,” along with offers of steady, $1,500 monthly payments and safe havens for themselves and their families.
“They ask me, ‘Give me a solution. What should we do? If we go back to Afghanistan, the Taliban will kill us,” Arghandiwal added.
He said the recruiting was led by Russia’s Wagner Group, associated with President Putin, who was earlier said to be chasing over 1,500 convicted felons to join Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Counterpoint: A Wagner Group spokesman, however, dismissed the idea of the effort to recruit former Afghan soldiers as “crazy nonsense,” as per AP, which also said it had not immediately received any response from Russia’s Defense Ministry or the U.S. Defense Department.
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