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They’re then shipped off to Afghanistan. We don’t hear why they’re there – the only justification is by the troops, who tell their commanding officers that they’re there to serve the people of Afghanistan (presumably by setting as many mines as humanly possible). Eventually, the movie culminates in a brutal battle between the mujahideen and the company. Everyone in the company is killed but the poorest fellow (naturally). The film ends with him decrying the lack of help from the Soviet government, complaining over the fall of one of the most evil regimes in human history:
“We were leaving Afghanistan. We … 9th company … won our war. Back then we still didn’t know everything. We didn’t know that two years later, the country in whose name we fought, would vanish, and that wearing the medals of that extinct state would go out of fashion …. We didn’t know that Snow White, along with her mother and many other Russian families, would remain in the abandoned military town on the Afghan border and disappear. And that our new lives would be random and cruel. Some would rise up. Others sank to the bottom. We didn’t know it back then. We didn’t even know that in the frenzy of retreat of the huge army, they simply forgot about us on those faraway heights. We were leaving Afghanistan, 9th Company … we won.”
The idea here is clear: communism prevented people from rising and falling. It wasn’t random and cruel. If left to their own devices, the communists would have been victorious. If not for Gorbachev, who is pilloried throughout the film by implication.
This is Putin’s Russia. It is well worth noting that Putin’s Russia is not ashamed of Afghanistan. They’re not ashamed of their communist past. They’re proud of all of it. And if they can rekindle it, they will.
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