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Afghanistan: Life In A Historical Battlefield

Successive wars for control over Afghanistan, beginning with the Great Game of the 19th century and continuing with the Soviet invasion and the U.S.-led war against the Taliban, have left behind a landscape that is both stark and striking. Rostyslav Khotin of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service recently traveled to Afghanistan to see what clues the Kremlin's 1979-89 occupation might hold for Ukraine's own conflict with Russia.

The Afghan capital Kabul viewed from a neighboring hilltop. 
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The Afghan capital Kabul viewed from a neighboring hilltop. 

The tomb of Afghan King Nadir Shah, who was assassinated in 1933. The renovated shrine stands on Maranjan Hill overlooking eastern Kabul. A NATO surveillance airship can be seen just overhead.
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The tomb of Afghan King Nadir Shah, who was assassinated in 1933. The renovated shrine stands on Maranjan Hill overlooking eastern Kabul. A NATO surveillance airship can be seen just overhead.

An Afghan boy herding a flock of sheep. 
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An Afghan boy herding a flock of sheep. 

Public portraits of former mujahedin fighters remain a common fixture in Kabul. Here, Mohammad Fahid, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and Ahmad Shah Masud. 
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Public portraits of former mujahedin fighters remain a common fixture in Kabul. Here, Mohammad Fahid, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and Ahmad Shah Masud. 

Women wearing all-encompassing burqas are seen mainly in Afghan villages and poor city outskirts. 
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Women wearing all-encompassing burqas are seen mainly in Afghan villages and poor city outskirts. 

Toilet paper, alcohol-free beer and Pop Tarts -- some of the products up for sale at Kabul's Bush Bazaar, formerly known as the Brezhnev Bazaar during the Soviet occupation. 
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Toilet paper, alcohol-free beer and Pop Tarts -- some of the products up for sale at Kabul's Bush Bazaar, formerly known as the Brezhnev Bazaar during the Soviet occupation. 

A typical Afghan village, where houses are built on hilltops from stone, clay, or concrete. 
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A typical Afghan village, where houses are built on hilltops from stone, clay, or concrete. 

Some of Afghanistan's earliest European explorers described Kabul as "paradise" because of the sound of birds singing in local gardens. Here, an Afghan man selling finches at a market. 
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Some of Afghanistan's earliest European explorers described Kabul as "paradise" because of the sound of birds singing in local gardens. Here, an Afghan man selling finches at a market. 

A U.S. military vehicle outside Bagram Air Base. 
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A U.S. military vehicle outside Bagram Air Base. 

Afghanistan remains littered with the hulls of Soviet tanks destroyed by mujahedin fighters during the 1979-89 occupation. 
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Afghanistan remains littered with the hulls of Soviet tanks destroyed by mujahedin fighters during the 1979-89 occupation. 

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