Russian Troops Morale Low In Ukraine? – OpEd


“There is a common perception that the Soviets were defeated and driven from Afghanistan. “This is not true”. When the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989, they did so in a coordinated, deliberate, professional manner, leaving behind a functioning government, an improved military and an advisory and economic effort insuring the continued viability of the government.

The withdrawal was based on a coordinated diplomatic, economic and military plan permitting Soviet forces to withdraw in good order and the Afghan government to survive. The Soviets did not abandon the Afghanistan government. The Soviets left a contingent behind to help coordinate logistics and air strikes. After the withdrawal, the Afghan government ran a 600-truck convoy weekly to the Soviet Union for resupply. The Soviet Union maintained its air bridge, flying in cargos as diverse as flour and SCUD missiles.” States: Lester W. Grau, a Vietnam War veteran and retired lieutenant colonel in the US Army, is an analyst for the Foreign Military Studies in his article ‘BREAKING CONTACT WITHOUT LEAVING CHAOS: THE SOVIET WITHDRAWAL FROM AFGHANISTAN’ states.

Fictionalized accounts, particularly feature films, about the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s have played a significant role in shaping public opinion in the West have portrayed the Soviet army as brutal and genocidal and the mujahideen who resisted the invaders as “Freedom Fighters.” None have revealed the extent of aid from the US, the UK, Iran, Pakistan, and China to the Mujahideen. In particular, movies have failed to explore the possible links between US support for Mujahideen in the 1980s and violent attacks by Islamic extremists since 2001. 

Soviet troops fought bravely in Afghanistan?

Western and Ukrainian media appears to continue with exaggerated stories of low morale and lack of motivation about the Russian troops. Though there are valid reasons also to believe of the low morale of the Russian Forces. However, The Dallas Morning News published an interview with 70-year-old Afghan Abdullah, a former Taliban commander in the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1989) which talks about the way how Soviet troops fought bravely in Afghanistan. Abdullah tells an interesting story:

“The time of real battles was with the Russians.” Those were worthy fights with worthy soldiers. Everything was real. Kind of masculine. We later had a war with you Americans, but you were cowards. You never risked your lives. Your soldiers, from a safe distance, fired over a hundred shells at the village we were defending. You exterminated all civilians for miles. The Russians did not fight hiding like rats.

On one occasion, Shah Masud ordered us to occupy a hill from which we could control the Panjar ravine. The Russians were on that hill, and we couldn’t pass for months. We assembled an army for this attack, and it took us five days to break the Russian resistance. And that’s because they ran out of ammunition. We paid dearly for this success. On our side, the losses were more than 280 soldiers. We were very angry when we got to the top and saw that five soldiers of barely 18 were fighting against us. You Americans cannot imagine this sight. 

Five young men against Shah Masud’s army. We ordered them to pray. They knew we were going to kill them. And do you know what these Russian children did? They looked at us in silence and all five hugged each other. They were ready to die no matter what. They stood dirty, hungry, and hugged. They didn’t talk. They didn’t even cry. They were just waiting for their death. We are speechless. Such a sight could amaze even the most determined soldiers who were used to everything. Despite the fact that those young Russians killed half of our unit, we didn’t know what to do. 

For us, they were great warriors. They had an honor. They did not beg for their lives. My grandchildren are studying in Germany, but I would like them to grow up like these Russians – like real men. And then we let these Russians go. Yes, the commanders were unhappy with this decision, but our decision is not discussed. We set them free. And guess what happened? The Russians hugged each other and, without turning to make sure we wouldn’t shoot them in the back, left. Those were real men!

“Wonder if the above interview of an Afghan commander of the Shah Masud’s army who fought the Soviet troops sharing his experience about fighting the brave Russian forces is true?” If found to be true, there is need for the Russian Military leadership to introspect the real causes of low morale and motivation levels of the Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine? Whereas the Russian soldiers fought bravely in Afghanistan and also withdrew in a coordinated, disciplined and professional manner so what has happened to the Russian soldiers over the decades as reported by Western and Ukrainian media.

In contrast with the high levels of motivation among Ukrainian soldiers is striking as they have a cause to defend their country. Ukrainian soldiers are Fighting for their native land, their home and for the future of their children. Wonder, how the Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine are being motivated? The readers are requested to confirm if in knowhow about the story narrated by Afghan Abdullah, a former Taliban commander in the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1989) or The Dallas Morning News may kindly the authenticity of the interview.

Sources: Open-Source Intelligence

Patial RC

Patial RC is a retired Infantry officer of the Indian Army and possesses unique experience of serving in active CI Ops across the country and in Sri Lanka. Patial RC is a regular writer on military and travel matters in military professional journals. The veteran is a keen mountaineer and a trekker.

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