Billions of dollars worth of U.S. weapons are on the negotiating table between Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and Afghanistan’s Taliban government, according to at least one insider.
Presidentish Joe Biden’s bungled bugout from Afghanistan resulted in a windfall for the new radical Islamic government, including artillery, attack helicopters, and thousands of HUMVEES, machine guns, radios — all left behind as our orderly withdrawal degenerated into a rout.
The Department of Defense estimates the total value of the gear Biden left behind at a whopping $7.12 billion, and now Putin is reportedly offering to buy whatever he and the battered Russian Army need.
According to The Sun, a report on Telelgram (a social media platform popular with Russian milbloggers) claims:
Putin is overseeing negotiations with the Taliban to recognise the Taliban government. In return, the Russian leadership is offering a major arms and military equipment swap,” General SVR channel wrote.
“Putin reported that the Taliban possess weapons and equipment including those seized after coming to power in Afghanistan, that are scarce for the Russian Army at the front,” it further stated.
The Russian Ministry of Defense hasn’t commented on the rumor.
If I’m reading this correctly, this would be more of a weapons swap than a cash deal. The Taliban would give up its Western gear in exchange for diplomatic recognition and Russian weapons. Undoubtedly, ammo, spares, and replacements for Russian equipment would be easier for the Taliban to get hold of than for the Western stuff they have now.
Exactly how much effective use the Russian Army would get out of Biden’s haul is debatable. They’d face the same problem the Taliban has: Lack of spares and proper ammo.
Still, given Russia’s massive losses — including up to 3,000 frontline and reserve main battle tanks — every little bit probably helps.
If the deal goes through, there’s the added bonus of a diplomatic coup against the Biden Administration’s ineptitude — not to mention the further embarrassment of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians being killed by American weapons.
The headline to my story promised more, and here it is:
U.S. Southern Command chief General Laura Richardson told the Atlantic Council this week that the Biden Administration has offered Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua — all trouble spots for us — and six other Latin American nations used U.S. military equipment if they’d send their old Russian and Soviet gear to Ukraine.
This report stands on much firmer ground than the rumor about Putin and the Taliban, having been confirmed by Gen. Richardson herself.
Meanwhile, the U.S., Germany, Poland, and the U.K. are in the process of sending modern main battle tanks like the M1 Abrams, Leopard II, and Chieftan to Ukraine.
There’s a deeper realignment going on here, and both these stories are indicative of it.
Communist China’s rise and Russia’s wreckless invasion of Ukraine — and the West’s response to both — have effectively blunted globalization. The world is bifurcating once more, with China and Russia on one side, and NATO plus the westernized Pacific Rim nations (Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand) on the other. The rest of the world will be pressured to take sides in Cold War II.
Assuming Ukraine survives Putin’s invasion, they will adopt Western gear whether or not they join NATO. Now that the West is their supplier, it makes little sense for Kyiv to stick with weapons designed and built by their sworn enemy.
Weening anti-American countries like Cuba and Venezuela off Russian weapons makes a callous kind of sense, as part of an (ill-fated?) effort to realign them westward.
Both sides made a lot of stupid and/or self-defeating plays during the Cold War, and Cold War II is lining up to be just as messy.
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