Gorbachev: "Victory is Impossible in Afghanistan"

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who withdrew his own forces from Afghanistan after a stalemate 10-year war against the U.S. funded Taliban, says President Obama must also give up the fight against the country's Muslim hardliners.

"Victory is impossible in Afghanistan. Obama is right to pull the troops out. No matter how difficult it will be," Gorbachev told the BBC's Moscow correspondent.

"What's the alternative -- another Vietnam? Sending in half-a-million troops? That wouldn't work," the ex-Soviet leader told the BBC, even as Russia's current leaders signaled they may start helping the U.S.-led military operation in Afghanistan.

NATO officials have said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will attend a summit next month to discuss the terms of an agreement which could see Russian forces enter Afghanistan for the first time since Gorbachev pulled them out in 1989.

Russia is expected to sell helicopters and offer troops to train Afghan forces in what would represent a highly symbolic thawing in Russia-NATO relations, reports The Telegraph. Russia also was considering opening it's border to NATO supply convoys headed in and out of Afghanistan.

The dire outlook from Gorbachev would seem to bolster the private statements of senior U.S. intelligence officials, who tell the Washington Post the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan seems to have had very little success in quashing the country's insurgents.

"The insurgency seems to be maintaining its resilience," a senior Defense Department official told the newspaper.

  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the CBSNews.com foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.