In a country full of grand military museums, Vladimir Kostyuchenko's is perhaps one of the humblest.
"The government doesn't help us very much," the 54-year-old retired colonel said as he showed a visitor his one-room museum devoted to the Soviet Union's bitter war in Afghanistan, which lasted from 1979 to 1989, and set the stage for today's conflict between US-led coalition forces and the Taliban.
Gesturing towards a wall of black-and-white photographs of local Moscow soldiers who died in Afghanistan, Kostyuchenko noted that many of them perished in the same places where American soldiers are fighting Taliban insurgents today.
Despite the growing cost in American lives, US President Barack Obama was right to send tens of thousands more troops to battle the Taliban and al-Qaeda, asserted Kostyuchenko, a former Soviet helicopter pilot who served three tours in Afghanistan in the 1980s. “It would be a total mistake to withdraw forces," he said. "If forces are withdrawn from Afghanistan before normality is restored there, it will be a step backwards and the nest of terrorism will only grow.
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Alexander Osipovich is a Moscow-based writer who specializes in regional affairs.