Morale: Russia Seeks Closure In Afghanistan


October 26, 2012: Russia is trying to get Afghanistan to help find the graves of missing Russian soldiers from the 1979-89 war. Russia would also like to track down Russian troops who deserted in Afghanistan during the war. Russia has a list of 265 soldiers considered missing in Afghanistan during the 1980s. About twenty percent of them are believed to be deserters who are still alive. About a third of these men are believed to have since left Afghanistan. For the sake of the families, Russia wants to determine if the missing troops are dead or alive and pass that information on to surviving kin.

While the Afghan government is inclined to help there is one major problem. Many of the missing Russian troops were last seen in areas that are still Taliban strongholds. The Taliban were recruited from a few Pushtun tribes in the south and the Taliban are still largely Pushtun. Since the Pushtuns are only 40 percent of the population, they were never able to control all of Afghanistan in the 1990s. The northern tribes formed the Northern Alliance and continued resisting the Taliban until reinforced by the Americans after September 11, 2001. That enabled the Northern Alliance to quickly defeat the Taliban. 

Ever since then Russia has been trying to restore good relations with Afghanistan. Bitter memories of the war have made this difficult. The Russians lost 15,000 troops, while 1.5 million Afghans died during the 1979-89 Russian occupation. Russia and their pro-Russian Afghan government still controlled most of Afghanistan when Russian troops left in 1989. The Russians gave the pro-Russian government some $300 million a year until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. After that, the payments stopped, and the pro-Russian government fell in 1992. The subsequent civil war enabled the Taliban to take control by 1996. The Russians began supporting the Northern Alliance against the Taliban from the late 1990s to 2001. The new Afghan government was dominated by Northern Alliance leaders and Russia resumed diplomatic relations with Afghanistan in 2002. Since then Russia has provided free or low cost military equipment, economic aid, and other assistance to Afghanistan. Now Russia wants some help in finding closure about their Afghan War.


Article Archive

Morale: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close