Ukraine has pulled its military contingent out of Afghanistan, spelling an end to its 14-year involvement in the embattled Central Asian country.
The withdrawal follows the historic decisions of the United States and NATO to end their operations in Afghanistan in 2021, despite the ongoing war between the country’s weak Western-backed government and Islamist movement Taliban.
All 21 Ukrainians deployed to Afghanistan returned home between June 1 and 5 on the Ukrainian Air Force’s Ilyushyn Il-76MD transport aircraft, which is normally used in overseas operations.
The Ukrainians were part of NATO’s non-combat mission Resolute Support, which provided training and advice for the Afghan Armed Forces since late 2014. Since 2007, Ukraine was also involved in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a multinational military mission that was active between 2001 and 2014.
According to Ukraine’s General Staff, the Ukrainian personnel were involved in the mission’s regional staff service, engineer reconnaissance of transport communications, and disposal of improvised explosive devices. They also served watch duties with the international joint rapid response task team.
The experience gained in Afghanistan will be applied at home, including in the war zone of Donbas, the Ukrainian military said.
U.S. President Joe Biden on April 13 vowed to completely withdraw from “America’s longest war” by Sept. 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks that had precipitated the U.S. invasion in Afghanistan to oust the Taliban from power and end its alleged support of terrorist organization al-Qaeda.
On April 14, NATO decided to end its own peace support mission in the country.
Both the Alliance and the U.S. vowed to maintain their broad support of the Kabul government after they leave.
But according to speculation in the media, the withdrawal is extremely likely to precipitate the downfall of the internationally recognized government and allow the Taliban to completely take over Afghanistan once again.
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