Lynne O’Donnell, a columnist at Foreign Policy reported that Afghanistan’s elite National Army Commando Corps, who were abandoned by the United States and Western allies when the country fell to the Taliban last year, claim that they have been contacted with offers to join the Russian military to fight against Ukraine.
The journalist cited multiple Afghan military and security sources who said that the US-trained light infantry force, which fought alongside American and other allied special forces for the length of the war in Afghanistan, could “make the difference Russia needs on the Ukrainian battlefield.”
Approximately 20,000 to 30,000 of Afghanistan’s volunteer commandos were abandoned during America's disastrous withdrawal from the country in August of 2021 after almost 20 years and handing control over to the Taliban.
Many of the commandos who remained in the country are in hiding to avoid capture and execution, while the terrorist regime hunts down and kills loyalists to the fallen Afghan government. Instead of helping them escape, the United States and its allies have largely abandoned them.
Despite the US spending close to $90 billion arming and training the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, they handed the country over to the Taliban in a matter of weeks. However, according to Foreign Policy, the commandos, having been trained by American Navy SEALs and the British Special Air Service, were always held in high regard.
However, now without jobs, many of the commandos are still hoping for resettlement in the US or Britain, making them easy targets for Russian recruiters.
A former senior Afghan security official told the outlet that the addition of the Afghan commandos into the Russian military “would be a game-changer” in the war with Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been struggling to recruit for his failing war and is using mercenaries from the Wagner Group to sign up prisoners and may also be behind Russia’s recruitment of Afghanistan’s special forces.
Putin has also been drafting Russian males, including many who had previously served and are past prime fighting age, for the army. Many men of the targeted age fled the country when the draft began, but many still remain in the country after Putin ordered Russian airlines to stop selling tickets out of the capital to men aged 18 to 65 unless they have the approval of the Ministry of Defense.
Some former commandos told Foreign Policy that they have been contacted via WhatsApp and Signal with offers to join what is being called a Russian “foreign legion” for the war in Ukraine.
In a report by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) on President Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, the congressman wrote that the commandos “could potentially present a risk to US security should they be coerced or coopted into working with an adversary, including international terrorist groups such as [the Islamic State-Khorasan] or state actors like China, Russia, and Iran.”
A commando captain in hiding in Afghanistan told the outlet that he had helped many former colleagues connect with a recruitment office in Tehran and that recruits were flown from Afghanistan to Iran and then to Russia.” According to O'Donnell, he did not accept the offer because he considers Russia Afghanistan’s enemy following the 1979 invasion, and Russia's support of the Taliban.
Foreign Policy found recruiting material that said, “Anyone who would like to go to Russia with better treatment and good resources: please send me your name, father’s name, and your military rank,” and cited Afghan television that stated that recruitment offers include Russian citizenship.