Taliban took over Afghanistan in a powerful manner and with that came controversies of what country’s government will support the rule by the Taliban. Many of them have already denied accepting the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan including Russia but the behavior they are maintaining with the Taliban leads to various theories.
After the Taliban took over the capital city Kabul and released the date for evacuation many countries were alarmed and tried their best to make their citizens safe from Afghanistan amidst the crisis. The governments of the United States, European Countries, and countries from Asia rushed to get their citizens out of Afghanistan, especially from Kabul within the timespan of a week but Russia was not visibly alarmed because of this. It definitely indicated how Russia is not considering the Taliban as a threat. It has stated that Russia’s key concerns are regional stability and border security for its Central Asian allies.
When the whole world is criticizing the Taliban and is worried about how control of Afghanistan in hands of the Taliban will affect the world in different parameters, Russian diplomats are describing these apparently new men in the country as “normal guys” and argued how in their rule, the capital city Kabul will be safer now as compared to past years. All the claims and praisings being done by Russia are speaking for themselves that Russia is playing very safely with this matter. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the takeover by the Taliban is a reality and they have to work with that. It is also being said that, all this is a far call from the nine-year war in Afghanistan that many Russians remember from propping up Kabul’s Communist Government in the 1980s.
Warm Words For Taliban: A Gift From Russia
When the governments of so many countries are trying to wipe up the embassies from the capital city Kabul, Russia says their diplomatic mission will remain open and that they all have warm words for the new rulers of Afghanistan, the Taliban. Russian Ambassador Dmitry Zhirnov met the Taliban’s representative just after 48 hours of Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and stated how there is no remorse or even evidence of reprisals or violence in the city but if we believe in this then all the photographs and videos of people running in the airport track must be edited or just a hoax.
Moscow’s UN Representative Vassily Nebenzia spoke of a bright future of national reconciliation and stated how finally law and order will return in the streets of the Taliban after so many years of bloodshed, people are skeptical about what kind of law and order he was praising when the whole world is aware that strict Islamic Law will be enforced and that people will live in oppression.
Russian President Putin’s designated envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov said that the Taliban is easier to negotiate with as compared to the previous government of exiled President Ashraf Ghani and he also called that government a “puppet government”. Russia is making sure that their ties with the current Taliban government remain peaceful throughout but maybe they are forgetting the history that is linked with the Taliban.
Improving Ties With Taliban
Russia has not recognized the Taliban as Afghan rulers officially but there is certainly a soft inclination towards them. States news agency Tass this week used the word “radical” instead of “terrorist” in a report that was talking about the Taliban. This shows that even if they have not made any official statements about how they have accepted the Taliban as the rulers of Afghanistan, their arms are open for aid and support.
Even though the Taliban have been on Russia’s list of terrorist and banned organizations since 2003, Moscow has seen talking terms with the Taliban and building contacts for some time and the group’s representatives have been coming to Moscow for these talks since 2018. The former Western-backed Afghan government has accused Russia’s presidential envoy of being an open supporter of the terrorist group Taliban and for excluding the official government for three years of Moscow talks.
On these matters, Mr. Kabulove stated how they are just being ungrateful. But, as far back as 2015, he has stated that Russia’s interests matched with the Taliban when it came to fighting Islamic State ( IS) Jihadists.
Nothing mentioned above has gone unnoticed by the world, especially in Washington. The United Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accused Russia in August 2017 of supplying arms to the terror group Taliban and this remark was rejected by Moscow described as “perplexing”. On this accusation, the foreign ministry in Moscow said it has asked: “our American colleagues to provide evidence, but to no avail…we do not provide any support to the Taliban”.
In February this year, Mr. Kabulov angered the Afghan government by gracing his warm and appreciative words for the Taliban for fulfilling its side of the Doha agreement “immaculately” and accused Kabul of wrecking them. These incidents point in the direction that Russia is a close supporter of the Taliban or let’s say they support the people who are scary but powerful in some manner. Even if Russia does not accept the fact that they have not recognized the Taliban as a government, the truth is deep down they already have.
Russia’s Focus On Regional Security
Though Russia is showing a lot of support to the Taliban and is maintaining a close tie with them, Moscow is staying pragmatic and is just watching developments and is not removing the group from their terror list. It seems like President Putin is still watching out and hoping that the Taliban will complete their promise to restore order in Afghanistan. According to Russia’s President Putin, it is crucial not to allow terrorists to spill into neighboring countries.
The major factor shaping Russia’s policy is regional stability and the painful history they have with Afghanistan. Russia wants to secure borders for its Central Asia allies and prevent the spread of terrorism and trafficking of drugs.
After the 9/11 attacks, the United States targeted the Taliban and set up bases in former Soviet states of the region. Though Russia initially welcomed and did heads up to the move, later on, relations got strained between these two counterparts. It can be seen how Russia is playing very safely for its safety and considering the peace of neighboring countries, as well, by maintaining a tie with the Taliban.
Earlier, Russia held military exercises in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan that aimed at reassuring Central Asian countries as some of them are military allies of Moscow. Russia also obtained the assurance of the Taliban that Afghan will not threaten its regional allies and that the fight against the IS militants will be continued in the coming years.
Bitter Memory Of The War
Russia has stressed that they have no interest in sending their army force to Afghanistan and it is pretty clear why they are doing this. They have fought many pointless wars in that province in the latter years of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. It began as a 1979 invasion to lead a friendly regime but lasted for nine years and cost 15,000 lives of Soviet Personnel. Most of those killed were teenage Soviet army conscripts. This war came with a realization of just how little Soviet authority cared about their people. The war ended with military withdrawal in February 1989. The result was much more as it turned the USSR into an international pariah and ended up with many countries boycotting the 1980 Moscow Olympics and led to a massive burden on the already drowning economy of the Soviets.
While the Soviet Union installed a government in Kabul led by Barak Karmal, the United States, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran supplied arms and support to the mujahideen who fought the Soviet Troops.
As far as it is seen, it looks like Russia wants to be an ally with the Taliban but their actions, especially precautions, also state how they do not trust the Taliban completely. Russia is playing safe and is trying to maintain a relationship with the Taliban so that they will not harm the citizens shortly which is a smart move.
The softening attitude towards the Taliban is noticeable and, predictably, they will support the group in fighting against the IS. Though many of us believe that Russia is completely okay with the takeover of the Taliban, the experts from Moscow are still in shock on this subject.
Taliban has never proven itself as a good ally. Considering the history and what they are capable of doing to people, it is still dangerous to trust them. The oppression of Afghan people is destined after the takeover, and supporting them in any way will lead to more suffering of the innocents in one way or the other.