Gorbachev: Afghan victory ‘impossible’

By Peter Wozniak

Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet premier who withdrew Russian troops from Afghanistan in the 1980s, has warned Nato countries that victory is impossible.

Mr Gorbachev also claimed the US, by training the Mujahedeen who ousted the Soviets from Afghanistan, became the architects of the current difficulties.

Questioned directly on the matter, the former Soviet leader told the BBC: “Victory is impossible in Afghanistan. Obama is right to pull the troops out. No matter how difficult it will be.”

Speaking of the agreement Mr Gorbachev worked for to withdraw from Afghanistan when he was leader, he argued: “The Americans always said they supported this, but at the same time they were training militants – the same ones who today are terrorising Afghanistan and more and more of Pakistan.”

“So it will be more difficult for America to get out of this situation.”

Nato countries have scaled down previous objectives of building a strong democracy in the country to establishing a minimum level of stability to deny the country as a training ground for al-Qaida.

Mr Gorbachev also invoked a comparison with another unpopular US-led war.

“What’s the alternative – another Vietnam? Sending in half-a-million troops? That wouldn’t work,” he added.

US president Barack Obama has stated that American forces will begin withdrawing from Afghanistan next year.

Britain’s coalition government meanwhile has committed itself to pulling out all UK troops from combat roles in Afghanistan by 2015.

Both countries’ stated withdrawal dates occur shortly prior to major elections, in a sign of the war’s increasing unpopularity.