Russia’s Foreign Ministry has said that Australian authorities are seeking to “soft-pedal” war crimes that the country’s troops had committed in Afghanistan.
"It’s absolutely clear that the ruling establishment of the Green Continent is trying its best to soft-pedal the issue of the war crimes committed by Australian troops in Afghanistan, a topic it finds very uncomfortable,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement on Friday.
“In any case, this seemed to be the underlying reason behind the activity - or, more precisely, the inactivity - of the previous liberal cabinet led by disgraced Prime Minister Scott Morrison, which included a no less notorious defense minister, Peter Dutton," she said.
She said that new data about Australian war crimes make it clear that "this issue is institutional and deeply rooted, particularly in the elite units of the country’s armed forces."
"The ruling circles’ attempts to hush the public outcry by taking only palliative measures indicate double standards and the hypocritical nature of Australia’s political class, which disregards its own flaws but readily castigates other countries for failing to meet Western standards," Zakharova emphasized.
Analysts said that Russia had also committed war crimes in Afghanistan during its invasion from 1979 to 1989.
“The fact that Australia is prosecuting its soldiers is at least a positive step from a moral point of view, but the Russians also committed crimes in Afghanistan and their presence damaged Afghanistan's infrastructure. However, Russians have never brought perpetrators to justice," said Asadullah Nadim, a military affairs analyst.
Meanwhile, Islamic Emirate's spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that many countries, including Australia, have committed war crimes in Afghanistan over the past 20 years and that they should be held accountable.
"We cannot disregard the atrocities that all of the countries have done over the past 20 years. We believe that all of the invading soldiers from each country killed Afghans, destroyed their homes and committed crimes against humanity," Mujahid noted.
A number of residents of Uruzgan in the south of the country who believe they are the victims of war crimes perpetrated by Australian soldiers said that those responsible should be punished and that they should be given compensation.
“Australians were very cruel people and their intelligence teams gave them wrong information and they killed many civilians,” claimed Mohammad Nasim, a resident of Uruzgan.
“We want perpetrators of war crimes to be held accountable and the families of the victims should receive compensation,” said Shah Mahmood, a resident of Uruzgan.
A former Australian soldier was recently found guilty of war crimes by a judge in the Federal Court of Australia. The Office of the Special Investigator of Australia has said in a report that he is looking into more than 40 cases of war crimes in Afghanistan.