Afghan Conflict: Putin’s Avenge Of The Soviet Defeat
“ WHO IS MISTER PUTIN ? “, the German dailies blared, as they tried to uncover the profile of a common spy who committed acted belligerent. It was the 25th of February 1994, Vladimir Putin then the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg was an attendee at a European Union event in Hamburg. The event was of the utmost importance as it included a speech by then Estonian President Lennart Meri. It was hosted in Hamburg at the Matthiae-Mahl banquet, which is being celebrated since 1356. Hundreds of prominent guests from political, business, and cultural spheres met in the historic city hall to dine and have very high-ranking small talk.
On that ebullient day, the chief guest, Lennart Meri gave a thought-provoking speech. Referring to a paper from the foreign ministry in Moscow he said, “It notes that the problem of ethnic Russian groups in countries neighbouring Russia cannot be solved by diplomatic means alone.” Other means were conceivable for Moscow, Meri concluded. He warned against Russia’s “neo-imperialist policy” and appealed to integrate Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, into the “democratic world.”
The meeting was being held at The Knights Hall, which has a grand ten-meter high ceiling and parquet flooring. At a particular instance in his speech, Meri referred to the Soviet Union as “occupiers”. At this point, Vladimir Putin who sitting along with the Soviet delegation and other dignitaries, couldn’t take it anymore. Putin stood up, gave a contemptuous glance to the speaker and straddled out of the hall with his footsteps reverberating in the background. To top it all off, he slammed shut the huge wrought iron doors with a deafening thunder.
This belligerent behaviour of Vladimir Putin created a buzz among the diplomats present there. According to a correspondent from the German magazine Zeit, “His exit was followed by whispers, “Who is he? What’s his problem?”. “It looked very impressive,” recalled a St. Petersburg colleague who would later go on to run the Russian federal election commission under President Putin. “ Who is Mister Putin? “ This question haunted the other attendees for days to come.
Vladimir Putin has a great ardour for the Soviet Union. It is quoted that Putin once famously said, “ Anyone who doesn’t regret the passing of the Soviet Union has no heart. Anyone who wants it restored has no brains. “ Putin is smart enough to understand that restoring the former Soviet Union is an unviable option. Instead, building a stronger, reliant Russia is feasible. Putin despises the preaching attitude of the west and wants the west to respect the national interests of Russia.
Vladimir Putin perceives the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan as an opportunity to expand Russia’s sphere of influence. Since Russia had a successful campaign in Syria against the anti-Assad forces, the Afghan mujahideen are wary of Russia’s military prowess. Taliban too has softened its stance towards Russia and is open to working mutually. It is at this nadir when there is a vacuum of power in Afghanistan, Russia under Putin will seek to install a pro-Russian government in Kabul.