Presenter Vladimir Solovyov, whose programs Evening with Vladimir Solovyov and Solovyov Live push the Kremlin line and savages Putin's critics, continued to pile on the Americans after the Afghanistan withdrawal. He asked two important guests Zamir Kabulov, Putin's point man for Afghanistan as well as Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to explain America's failures in Afghanistan. Kabulov tied the failure to American overconfidence and the use of incompetent personnel. In a lengthier segment with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that appeared designed to boost United Russia prior to the September 19, 2021 parliamentary elections, Shoigu reiterated the familiar charges that the Americans sought to impose their own values on the Afghans instead of concentrating on fighting terror as Russia was doing in Syria, he however charged that America was in Afghanistan to seize the country's natural resources and profit from the opium trade.
Shoigu defended Russia's role in Syria as both a defensive measure that prevented Islamic guerillas from getting to Russia and also as an extensive training ground for military personnel and equipment. Shoigu took pride in rebuilding the Russian army's capability and morale, and Solovyov was sure to remind the viewers that the modest self-effacing Shoigu headed the United Russia ticket.
Below is the segment with Kabulov followed by the longer interview with Shoigu.
Shoigu in uniform, Solovyov is in the inset. The text reads: A Great Power's Blunder, Evening with Vladimir Solovyov (Source: Smotrim.ru)Vladimir Solovyov:
- Does Osama Bin Laden still remain in the pantheon of the Taliban heroes? They rarely mention his name lately.
- Yes, you are right. But I think in their hearts and souls Osama bin Laden remains their brother in arms. (...) It does not mean they will follow the path defined by Bin Laden and this is proven by their irreconcilable struggle with ISIS. (...) ISIS the Taliban’s rival. [The latter] don’t like it when some foreign ISIS commands them.
- How did the Americans manage to lose the war in Afghanistan without losing a single battle?
- They lost because they don’t understand the world outside the US. (...) They have very weak analytics, the sense of permissiveness, which developed 30 years ago served them badly. (...) American power and political dominance didn’t require them to employ intelligent people. 
Zamir Kabulov (Source: Ria.ru)
— Good afternoon, Comrade Minister of Defense ["comrade" is employed as a formal approach to a serviceman not as a throwback to Communist times]. I’ve known you for many years, and I never cease to be amazed at the creative character of everything your do. A new rescue operation is underway in Afghanistan. It is necessary to evacuate not only Russian citizens but also those of countries that requested assistance. In this case there is, if you like, a combination of [creativity] with your great experience… You began participating in military operations and saving people during the first war back in 1992, isn’t that true? [Solovyov refers to the civil war in Afghanistan that erupted following the Soviet withdrawal in 1989]
— Since 1991. (...) I’m flattered by your words, but I remain more discreet in assessing my own merits. Once again, I want to repeat, what I have already said more than once, it is impossible to do anything by yourself, one needs those, who will stand by your side. (...) I consider my main merit to be the creation of a highly professional team. To put it simply, today practically all of our command staff without exception has combat experience ... More than 90% of our pilots has combat experience.
— Is this a real war experience? Because many people say that Syria... I mean you’ve repeatedly stated that we faced a highly professional and well equipped adversary in Syria.
— When we came to Syria, we quickly understood that military vehicles [used by the militants] came from Iraq, that our adversaries are those, who didn’t tolerate foreign troops on their soil. [We’ve witnessed] highly professional and coordinated military actions. It’s an army, I cannot call them differently. It’s an army of bandits, an army of terrorists, but still an army. These officers, for the most part, were educated in the USSR (...) It is a well-organized structure... [They had] their own currency, taxation, financial system, a well-established system of evacuating the wounded to other states...
Going back to the previous question, this [rescue operation] came as an order from the Supreme Commander-in-Chief [Vladimir Putin]. We’ve managed to evacuate all our citizens, citizens of CSTO member-states and as well as other people.
We are constantly analyzing the threats and risks in Afghanistan, including drugs and a large number of weapons that came into possession of militants (including man-portable high-precision weapons and anti-tank guided missiles). [For comparison] people claim that several dozen "Javelins" [FGM-148 Javelin] were supplied to Ukraine, but there are more than 100 of those in Syria.
— So, are they [the Taliban] better armed than the Ukrainian army?
— Well, yes. They are better equipped per 1000 servicemen. We need make forecasts on how the situation develops in the country. We are well aware that within the CSTO the borders are virtually non-existent, as should be the case between allies…
— What did the Americans fail to do? Why did we succeed in Syria while they failed in Syria and in Afghanistan?
— First of all, we don’t impose our way of life on anyone. Second, we came there [to Syria] with very specific objectives, i.e. the fight against terror, not against state power. Third, we are not doing what [the US] is trying to do, I’m talking about the so-called "imposition of democratic foundations."
In Afghanistan the US mainly focused on two areas: their own security and the creation and arming of an [Afghan] army, who the Afghans themselves consider to be collaborators, who supported the invading enemy; and the serious development and extraction of minerals. The main investments were put in the latter. However, the mentality of any nation doesn’t like it when the people are being robbed and values what "belongs to it." This what people call small businesses. Gradually all this led to Afghanistan becoming a major producer of heroin. [he just started talking about heroin]. 93% of the world’s heroin is produced there. During the US mission in the country [area of] poppy plantations increased 100-fold. I don’t want to talk how this heroin is getting to Europe, about the logistics. Everyone knows, who made flights from Afghanistan and controlled the territory.
— Why can’t the Americans to train a combat-ready [local] army since Vietnam War? After all they present themselves as a great military power. However, they fail every time in training local troops. But you have been able to create rather capable local units in Syria…
— We don’t impose our ideology on anyone. We say, "we came to support you, not to create a new regime, or a new government, to institute socialism or capitalism." We do this absolutely sincerely with no other goals. (...) In creating an army the Americans are focused on money (…) Turning back to history, no country has ever entered Afghanistan and succeeded in establishing or maintaining a foothold there. The Soviet Union understood this.
— Afghanistan has some personal meaning for you, doesn't it? (…)
— I was in Afghanistan during an earthquake. And the man, who previously fought against Soviet troops, served as a guide. He directed, which settlement and village requires humanitarian and medical help. At that moment I realized that he fought for the freedom of his country and he turned this page.
— How did you manage to create an army that the people loved? There are waiting lists for enrollment in military schools, officers are proud of their rank… Until recently the perception of the army was different.
— Well, you see, we had an opportunity to realize all that has become common place in today’s army. A large [defense] program was introduced, i.e. there were assets and we need to allocate these assets correctly. We need to make officers proud of their service. (…) We had to deal with acute problems in the army. There were almost 124 000 law suits per 150 000 army officers against the Ministry of Defense and the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. They had no other choice. This was an unacceptable situation for our people and our country. (…) In this regard there were three orders from the president. First thing is housing for military. Previously 62 000 servicemen waited for the housing to be built by the state. (…) So we decided to provide funds to the officers depending on the term of service and family composition, with which the officer can buy his own housing. The second order was service housing. So we analyzed whether it’s better to commission service housing or to provide financial assistance to the officers for renting of service housing, and the issue was dealt with in a year. (…) There were other things as well.
— Well these all are social issues. I look at the data and 99% of the weapons are in excellent condition, 70% are new weapons, adopted to service and tested in Syria (...)
— It’s true. I’ll tell those, who criticize the war in Syria, who claim it was expensive or something ... If tens of thousands of these bandits came to our country, I don’t know what we’d be doing. Could we then even build schools or kindergartens? Thus, in addition to things you’ve mentioned the requirements of the state defense order have skyrocketed. In 15 years we put into service 15,000 pieces of equipment for the ground forces. Back in 1999 - 2001 we received 10 to 19 aircraft per year, and today we get 140 to 150 every year! A lot have been done for this. A program was adopted to modernize the military-industrial complex; assets were invested in defense enterprises ... In Syria, practically all weapons were tested.
— Do we lag behind in terms of weapons? After the Karabakh war people were saying, "Look how it should be done. UAVs can accomplish any combat task." (…)
— We don’t lag behind. (...) We are not lagging behind with regard to all systems, for instance we have the "Pantsir" missile system, which was modernized to have a significantly increased detection range and impact on UAVs (by 30%), we have electronic warfare systems, and our own UAVs. [The army] receives serial complexes of unmanned aerial vehicles, this year, I believe, we will pass the milestone of 2,000 drones. (…)
— When the Supreme Commander-in-Chief made an offer at the [United Russia] congress for you to lead the UR [United Russia] electoral list (…), were you worried? After all you are the one of the party’s founders.
— For 15 years I thought that this stage [the party activity] of my life was over. I didn’t assume that I will participate in the elections. It is a big responsibility. The first wish was to fulfill the task of the president. There was excitement of course. (…) I hope we’ll be able fulfil this task.
— We often discussed that the army is based on ideology, and that the spirit of a warrior is defined by his faith. (...) Recently a terrific film about the heroes in Syria was made, the film called "Sky."
— This film is based on real events. (…) It was an operation in which everyone gave their best. (...) We were well prepared and despite the difficulties, ensured the safety [of the soldiers]. We have been able to restore the army’s true spirit. (…) Today we have a 84-86% level of public confidence in the army.
— (…) Ukraine, a complicated and very personal question ... Is Ukraine now a threat?
— I would not call Ukraine a threat. I believe that the Ukrainian people are a brotherly nation. (...) This plan and program [by modern Ukraine] is implemented by you know who and how and with what money. [meaning on the US money] We hope that the situation will change and a person will come to power there, who will stop all the ungrounded nationalist madness.
— But you gave them a good scare by conducting military exercises announced in advance, by redeploying the troops. Army games are held not just for fun. (…)
— (...) This year 452,000 military specialist passed all stages of the Army games. (...) The winner cannot participate in the next year’s competition, thus, there are thousands of well-trained specialists appear every year. Army games, surprise inspections and equipment deliveries have doubled the army’s combat efficiency in recent years. We also introduced (…) long-term state defense contracts.
— Can we surprise our potential adversaries, considering that these countries have bigger population and a stronger economy?
— Sure we can! Certain things were demonstrated by the President in his address, many things have already been put into military service. In service today, there are: Kh-47M2 "Kinzhal," "Avangard" hypersonic glide vehicle, "Peresvet" laser system. In the near future we will increase the range of hypersonic weapons, their speed, accuracy, and the adaptation of various vehicles to new types of weapons.
— There is a Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces in the Patriot Park. [It symbolizes] that the Russian army is strong in its spirit.
— True. We are proud of this cathedral. (…) At the beginning of the construction, there were many volunteers and help from the public. People wanted to just participate. It was a unifying story for all of us. There were 34 million participants in the construction.