Highly trained elite commandos abandoned by the US and its Western allies after the hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan are potentially being recruited by Russia for its war in Ukraine.
Navy SEALs and the British Special Air Service were responsible for training the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. The total cost to the West was over $90 billion, as reported by Foreign Policy magazine.
Only a few hundred high-ranking officers were evacuated from Afghanistan before the United States handed power to the Taliban in August 2021. Meanwhile, the Western Allies abandoned 20,000 and 30,000 volunteer commandos.
Thousands more commandos have fled to neighboring countries, while many of the few who stayed in Afghanistan are hiding out for fear of being captured and executed by the Taliban.
The report quoted an unnamed military source saying: “They have no country, no job, no future. They have nothing to lose.”
“They’re waiting for a job for $3 or $4 a day in Pakistan or Iran or $10 a day in Turkey, and if Wagner or any other intelligence service comes to a guy and offers him $1,000 to be a combatant, he will not reject it.
And if you find a guy to recruit, he can get half of his old unit to join because they’re like brothers, and pretty soon you have a whole platoon,” the source added.
According to the report, these “out of work and hopeless” commandos from the former Afghanistan defense forces are being recruited by the Wagner Group on behalf of Russia to fight in Ukraine.
The Wagner Group is a shadowy mercenary Russian private military company deeply intertwined with the Russian military and intelligence community.
Not much is known about the group’s origins, although reports say it was created by Dmitry Utkin, a former Russian special services officer, on the basis that his own callsign is “Wagner.”
The mercenary group is allegedly financed and controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch known as “Putin’s Chef,” who is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
With Ukrainian forces having recaptured large swathes of their territory in a counteroffensive that began last month, the Wagner Group itself is rapidly losing its fighters and equipment.
It has also been reported that the group has contacted locally organized crime groups in Latin America and European countries, such as the Czech Republic, Moldova, Hungary, and Turkey, to replenish their forces by recruiting mercenaries.
“I tell them [the recruiters] are the Wagner Group. They are gathering people from all over. The only entity that recruits foreign troops [for Russia] is the Wagner Group, not its army.
According to the report, it is not an assumption; it is a known fact,” an unidentified Afghan commando officer said.
“It would be better if the Western allies used them to fight alongside the Ukrainians.
They don’t want to fight for the Russians; the Russians are the enemy. But what else are they going to do?” he added.
Foreign Policy also claimed to have seen recruitment messages with similar wording, which hints at a centralized operation, according to the outlet.
The message seeks anyone “who wants to go to Russia with better treatment and good resources,” asking them to send their name, their father’s name, and their military rank.
Recipients are also being asked to help recruit other members of their units, hinting that Iran could also be part of the recruiting nexus offered by Russian citizenship.
Faced with the heavy losses on the battlefront, the Russian president launched a veiled nuclear threat at the end of last month and decreed a partial mobilization to gather more than the 300,000 men announced for the war in Ukraine.
Lacking the training and equipment to take on highly motivated Ukrainian forces, most of these men have been killed or captured on the battlefield.