Russia holds talks on Afghanistan involving senior representatives of the Taliban and other factions, diplomacy round that highlights Moscow’s influence
Opening the talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that “forming a truly inclusive government fully reflecting the interests not only of all ethnic groups but of all political forces in the country” is necessary to achieve a stable peace in Afghanistan.
Russia has worked for years to establish contact with the Taliban, even though it designated the group as a terrorist organization in 2003 and never removed it from the list. Any contact with such groups is punishable by Russian law, but the Foreign Ministry answered questions about the apparent contradiction by saying its dealings with the Taliban are essential to help stabilize Afghanistan.
The Soviet Union fought a 10-year war in Afghanistan that ended with the withdrawal of its troops in 1989. In recent years, Moscow has made a comeback as an influential intermediary in international talks on the issue. Afghanistan, welcoming representatives of the Taliban and members of other factions. for bilateral and multilateral meetings.
Unlike many other countries, Russia has not evacuated its embassy in Kabul and its ambassador has maintained regular contact with the Taliban after their takeover of the Afghan capital in August.
Lavrov, in his opening speech at the conference, commended the Taliban for their efforts to stabilize the situation in the country and ensure the functioning of state structures.
Last week Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that one should not rush to officially recognize the Taliban as the new rulers of Afghanistan, but stressed the need to engage in talks with them.
At the same time, he highlighted the security concerns posed by the Islamic State group and other militants based in northern Afghanistan, and noted that drug trafficking from Afghanistan would continue to present a challenge. .
Russia has pledged to provide military assistance to its former Soviet allies in Central Asia to help counter threats, and has organized a series of joint exercises in Afghanistan’s neighboring Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Another large-scale military exercise in Tajikistan involving 5,000 troops, more than 700 military vehicles and fighter jets began this week.