In the 1980s, when Afghanistan was embroiled in a war between Soviet forces propping up a client government in Kabul and the CIA-assisted mujahedeen insurgency, the country became a hotbed of global jihadism, as radical Islamist fighters, most infamously Osama Bin Laden, flocked there to wage armed struggle against the communists.
Several billions of dollars worth of covert U.S military assistance went to training and arming the Islamist guerilla fighters, including with Stinger antiaircraft missiles, which greatly hampered Soviet air power. What the U.S government couldn’t know at the time was how the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan would go on to galvanize radical Islamists and lay the foundations for future jihadist terrorist attacks on the West.
Unfortunately, the case of Ukraine suggests that the West has not learned the lesson from Afghanistan: that supporting and arming insurgencies can later have unpredictable and calamitous effects. Much like the Islamists who traveled to Afghanistan in the 1980s to wage jihad and later became the vanguard of global Islamist terrorism, present-day Ukraine could have the same mobilizing effect for the global far right.