Putin Says U.S. Presence in Afghanistan Ended in ‘Tragedies’

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that the United States’ 20-year campaign in Afghanistan ended in “only tragedies, only losses.”

The Russian leader has a track record of criticizing Western countries for trying to impose their values on non-Western nations.

Moscow has regularly slammed the U.S. policy in Afghanistan, which is now controlled by the Taliban after their takeover this month ahead of the American pullout on Aug. 31.

Putin said Wednesday that the U.S. army tried to “engrain their norms” in war-ravaged Afghanistan for two decades, which he characterized as a futile exercise.

“The result is only tragedies, only losses for those that did it — for the U.S. — and even more so for the people who live on Afghan territory,” he said.

It is “impossible to impose anything from outside,” he said.

He was speaking at a meeting with teenagers in the Russian far eastern city of Vladivostok to mark the start of the school year.

Last week Putin said Russia would not interfere in Afghanistan and that Moscow had learned from the Soviet occupation of the country.

He has also complained about Western countries trying to place Afghan refugees in Moscow-allied Central Asian states.

Moscow has been cautiously optimistic about the new leadership in Kabul, saying it would not meddle in domestic affairs.

Putin Says Russia Wants ‘Stable’ Belarus Ahead of Poll

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday he wants ex-Soviet neighbor Belarus to remain stable ahead of a presidential vote on Sunday, after Minsk accused Moscow of sending mercenaries to foment riots.

The Kremlin released a statement after a phone call between Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to discuss ties as Belarus ramped up tensions with its close ally ahead of the election.

The Russian leader was described as stressing Moscow’s “interest in retaining a stable domestic political situation in Belarus and holding the upcoming presidential poll in a calm atmosphere.”

Lukashenko is facing a strong challenge to his authoritarian regime from opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya whose campaign has seen thousands rally on the streets calling for an end to his 26-year-rule.

The Belarusian security service last week detained 33 Russians it described as members of Wagner, a shadowy private army reportedly controlled by a close Putin ally.

The Kremlin said the leaders had an “exchange of opinions” on the detentions.

It said they expressed “confidence that the situation that has arisen will be resolved in the spirit of mutual understanding characteristic of cooperation between the two countries.”

Belarus has accused the men of seeking to destabilize the country by orchestrating mass disorder along with opposition leaders.

Russia has demanded that Belarus release the men whom it said had done nothing wrong.

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