Putin promises Russians at campaign event he won’t intervene in Afghanistan

By Ignacio Ortega

Moscow, Aug 24 (EFE).- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday at a campaign event promised his countrymen that he will not militarily intervene in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover there, although he warned of the threat of international terrorism that the situation presents.

“Obviously, we have no intention of mixing into the internal affairs of Afghanistan, and even less so in involving our armed forces in a conflict of all against all,” said Putin during the federal congress of the governing Russia United party.

Putin took advantage of the kickoff for the campaign for the legislative elections to the Duma – due to take place on Sept. 19 – to reassure Russians that he will not send troops into a foreign country, as he did in 2015 in Syria.

He said that “the experience” of the Soviet Union, which invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and abandoned the country 10 years later, was a withdrawal that is considered to be one of the factors leading to the Soviet disintegration.

“We’ve taken the necessary lessons (from it),” he said.

The Russian leader admitted that the situation in Afghanistan is “alarming” and emphasized that Moscow and its partners are “closely” monitoring the situation in that country. In fact, Moscow has beefed up its military base in neighboring Tajikistan with new weaponry.

The Russian leader urged the government, the Foreign Ministry, the security forces and the members of the Duma – the lower house of the Russian Parliament – to strengthen measures to “guarantee the security of the country and its citizens.”

Last week, after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Putin called on the West to “join forces” with Russia to normalize the situation in Afghanistan.

In addition, he criticized Western interference and attempts to impose democratic values on other countries while ignoring their traditions, behavior that he called an “irresponsible policy.”

Putin also warned on Tuesday of the still extant threat of international terrorism, both from drug trafficking – given that 93 percent of the world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan – and from illegal immigration.

“The danger exists that terrorists and other groups who are taking shelter in Afghanistan may take advantage of the chaos caused by our Western partners and may try to start an escalation in neighboring countries. And that would certainly be a direct threat to our country, our partners,” he said.

He noted that in the Northern Caucasus military actions were mounted against international terrorist organizations and that, if they had not been destroyed with the help of the Chechens, Dagestanis and other peoples, Russian territory would be the scene of the same “horrors” that are presently taking place in Afghanistan.

“Russia is practically the only country that has been able to destroy international terrorist organizations,” he emphasized.

In that regard, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, said that “the real main threat” is that the Taliban have inherited “a huge quantity of armaments.”

“There are hundreds of firearms, hundreds of armored vehicles, aircraft and helicopters. Just in portable anti-aircraft systems there are more than 100. Nobody is controlling this,” he said.

“Besides Afghanistan, Putin also made several other promises of a clear electoral nature, including providing a one-time payment for retirees of 10,000 rubles (about $135) and another of 15,000 (about $200) for members of the armed and security forces regardless of rank.

Retirees, police officers and soldiers, along with government officials, are considered to be the main groups supporting United Russia, the party that has dominated in Parliament for the past 20 years.

Putin also promised to index pensions in 2022, to help families with children, the strength and well-being of whom he said is the authentic Russian national ideal.

He also praised the work of United Russia, which is known among the opposition as “the party of thieves and scoundrels” for its high level of corruption, but he noted that improving the lives of Russians is a “moral duty” and called on it to make way for new generations.

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