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Afghan Taliban capture an Indian Mi-35 gunship heli

The Taliban's recent capture of the Indian gunship on Wednesday signifies the receding Indian clout in Afghanistan and the inability of the Afghan forces to put up a defense.

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Afghan Taliban captured an Indian Mi-35 gunship donated to the Afghan air force back in 2019 on Wednesday. This news came in the wake of the Taliban making huge swaths in the Afghan land by capturing provinces and capital cities to increase their clout.

The delivery of 2 Mi-24V attack helicopters to the Afghan Air Force brings to 12 the total number of gunships supplied by India since 2015. Indian Ambassador Vinay Kumar handed over a pair of Mi-24V helicopters to acting Defence Minister Asadullah Khalid.

These helicopters are a replacement for the four helicopters gifted by India to [Afghanistan] in 2015/2016,” the Indian embassy had said. According to the July 2019 “Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan” report published by the U.S. Department of Defense, India transferred four Mi-35s during 2015/2016 and four more during 2018.

US General John Campbell in 2018 said that India’s Mi-35 helicopters made a big difference to Afghanistan by giving the security forces much-needed lethal teeth in the wake of the offensive against the militants in the war-torn country.

Read more: Taliban capture Afghanistan’s seventh provincial city

The Mi-35, which is a comprehensive upgrade of the Mi-24, is a versatile helicopter gunship with troop carrying capabilities. This gift by India to Afghanistan had been hailed by the people and government of Afghanistan along with the US.

Indian clout receding in the lieu of the Taliban offensive

The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) operators had hastily evacuated their nest in Kandahar in the wake of the military advance by the Taliban fighters which entails their receding influence in Afghanistan. With the accelerating Taliban influence as the US makes its withdrawal, India is left with few options.

Earlier, it had exercised significant clout in Afghanistan’s political and economic domains through its hefty $3billion investment and a nexus with Afghan leadership. Moreover, by ensuring transit trade feasibility to land-lock Afghanistan through developing the Chahabahar port in Iran, it was able to create the India-Afghan-Iran nexus against Pakistan.

Read more: Report says Delhi and Kabul derailing Afghan Peace Process

According to The Diplomat, Afghanistan, India, and Russia signed a maintenance deal for the new helicopters in 2018 which testify their defense agreement. The capture of the Indian gunship had turned the tables over Indian control.

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