Staunton, October 22 – When the USSR was fighting in Afghanistan, many Soviet officers were known to say that they didn’t fear the mujahidin but they did fear their Stinger missiles which were capable of shooting down Soviet helicopters, dramatically increasing the combat losses on the Soviet side and prompting Mikhail Gorbachev to pull out his military.
That historical chain not only informs Western films like “Charlie Wilson’s War,” about the US congressman who pushed for Washington to arm the mujahidin with Stingers but also has formed widespread Russian judgments that the Soviet army lost in Afghanistan not to the Afghan opposition but to the Americans and the ground-to-air missiles they supplied to the mujahidin.
That makes a declaration yesterday by Lt.Gen. Sergey Rudskoy, the chief of the main operational administration of the Russian General Staff, so important. He confirms that “militants of ‘the black khalifate’ operating near Aleppo have received portable anti-aircraft missiles” (versia.ru/dlya-rossijskix-voennyx-v-sirii-nachalsya-afganistan).
According to the general, these missile systems came either from Qatar or from Saudi Arabia; and their arrival means that “now the jihadists will be able to shoot down [Russian] aircraft,” not of course the strategic bombers but helicopters or support planes. And that “significantly” increases the risk for Russian military personnel.”
In reporting this, the “Versiya” portal says that “as the pessimists have warned, Syria can become for [Russian military personnel] a second Afghanistan, with comparable losses.” And it reminds its readers that “the turning point in the Afghan war in favor of the dushmans” came “when they received Stingers and Javelins from the Americans.”
Those mobile systems allowed the Afghan muhajidin to shoot down numerous Soviet helicopters and brought that war home to Soviet citizens as ever more residents of the USSR saw funerals of soldiers who had been killed as a result, putting pressure on the Kremlin to withdraw from that war.