Small Wars Journal

Russia Using ISIS Fears to Undermine NATO’s Afghan Mission, Analysts Say

Russia Using ISIS Fears to Undermine NATO’s Afghan Mission, Analysts Say by J.P. Lawrence – Stars & Stripes

Moscow recently invested $20 million to rebuild the ruined edifice of an old Soviet Union-era cultural center in downtown Kabul, giving it a new name as Russia continues to rebrand itself in a country where it waged a long and bloody war.

The building, named the Russian Cultural Center in Afghanistan, is a symbol of how Moscow aims to boost its influence in Kabul with both gifts and an aggressive propaganda campaign that Western and Afghan analysts believe is aimed at discrediting the West.

Moscow’s latest tactic: exaggerate the threat of Islamic State in Afghanistan, according to top U.S. generals. These “soft-power” efforts by Russia aim to exploit Afghan disappointment about the post-9/11 intervention by America and its allies, said Arturo Munoz, a researcher with the RAND Corporation.

“It tracks with their whole strategy to paint a picture of the United States as having failed to bring security to Afghanistan,” Munoz said. “Rumors and conspiracy theories — it’s a way to increase your influence and lower others’ without shooting.” …

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