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Tanks of the Taliban militants / Still frame of the video published by the Talibs

Taliban Militants Actively Restore Soviet Armored Vehicles, Helicopters and Heavy Weapons, Indicating Trace of Support From russia

Tanks of the Taliban militants / Still frame of the video published by the Talibs
2008

The ruling force in Afghanistan is turning into an army with a full spectrum of weaponry, including tanks and attack helicopters, not without help from a powerful ally

Taliban is actively transforming into a full-fledged military force with a full set of weapons, heavy armored vehicles, rocket artillery, and an aircraft fleet.

This is no secret as the Talibs are showing it openly on their media, and it testifies they managed to set up the restoration of Soviet weapons, which remained in the country after the withdrawal of the USSR from Afghanistan.

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Judging by available visual data, the impression is that operational Soviet equipment has already outnumbered Western types of weapons. That is despite American weapons should be prevailing in terms of both numbers and combat capability, considering the United States injected more than USD 83 billion over 20 years, yet lost the country in mere days, leaving lots of military equipment behind.

In September 2023, the Taliban published a video with dozens of T-62 and T-55 tanks, BMP-1 infantry vehicles refurbished to operational condition. It was stated to be one of the many batches of equipment having undergone capital repairs. The vehicles were taken from the "tank cemeteries" left after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.

This is how the vehicles look after 34 years of resting in the open field, without any sort of maintenance, with local residents occasionally tearing some parts away as scrap metal.

To illustrate the state of neglect typical for these "tank cemeteries," here's a photo from the one near Kabul:

"Tank cemetery" in the outskirts of Kabul
"Tank cemetery" in the outskirts of Kabul / Open source photo

This raises suspicions that without a proper industrial base, specialists, or spare parts, Talibs wouldn't be able to bring the vehicles back together like that, unless someone reached out with a helping hand.

And it's not just about armored vehicles, the variety of equipment put back in order extends beyond, including even rotorcraft. Here's the footage of Talibs showcasing their Mi-24 military helicopters.

Keep in mind that it's not enough to simply repair them, someone has to teach the pilots and maintenance technicians, a long-term investment that means the Talibs are confident there will be a source for Mi-24 spare parts, necessary to keep the helicopters flying.

Conversely, last year's attempt to fly an American UH-60 Black Hawk by the Taliban had an unsurprising outcome:

The available evidence suggests that russia played a role in Talibs acquiring all these capabilities. The russian federation is a major supplier of Soviet-type equipment, technical data, and associated service providers while also being one of the few countries willing to have open diplomatic relations with the Taliban.

This can explain why russia accepts Taliban representatives in Moscow and their meetings with the Kremlin's establishment, despite the Taliban being officially recognized as a terrorist organization in russia.

russian foreign affairs minister Sergey Lavrov during the meeting with the Taliban representatives / Photo source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the russian federation
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