Russia seeks to ‘actively operate in Kabul’ and seek constructive ties with Taliban
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Zamir Kabul, the Special Presidential Representative for Afghanistan, confirmed the Russian embassy would continue to “actively operate in Kabul.” He also said the international community should respect the existing cultural and religious values of the country and that its traditional institutions should be considered “conditionally democratic.” His remarks come after the US secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Monday the Taliban “must live up to its commitments” and that legitimacy would have “to be earned.”
Mr Blinken also said the US had closed its diplomatic mission in Kabul and moved the embassy to Doha in Qatar.
Mr Kabul’s comments reflect a continuing softening of Moscow’s relations with the Taliban.
The Kremlin has been secretly building bridges to the militants for some time now, despite the jihadist group featuring on a government list of terrorist and banned organisations since 2003.
Taliban leaders have travelled on numerous occasions to Moscow since 2018 to hold talks with Russian officials.
Moscow is keen to establish cordial relations with the Afghan Taliban so as to secure borders for its Central Asian allies and to stop the spread of terrorism and drug trafficking.
Last month, the Kremlin reportedly received assurances from the leadership of the militants that they would not threaten Russia’s regional partners and would continue to fight IS.
President Putin said he expected the new regime to keep its promises.
“It’s important not to allow terrorists to spill into neighbouring countries,” he said.
Russia has a troubled and painful history with Afghanistan, as a result of the Soviet Union’s invasion of the country in 1979.
It was drawn into a bloody war that lasted nine years and cost the lives of up to 15,000 Soviet personnel.
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The war is widely thought to have hastened the end of the Soviet Union, at least in part, by stirring disillusionment with its rulers.
Some Russian experts are sceptical about the Taliban’s promises to restore stability in the country.
Andrei Kortunov, head of the Russian International Affairs Council think tank, believes the jihadists will struggle to impose their authority throughout the country, especially in the north, and that could threaten Russia and its neighbours.
“Perhaps, some cells of al-Qaeda, perhaps of Isis, based in Afghanistan, would instigate some actions in Central Asia,” he told the BBC.
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