September 19, 2021

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Russiske soldater i Tajikistan

Joy in Moscow – but the Taliban in Afghanistan could be a boom for Russia – NRK Urix – Foreign news and documentaries

Fyodor Lukyanov is one of Russia’s leading foreign policy experts.

Photo: RIAC

It is hard to blame Russia for being somewhat complacent about what is happening in Kabul.

This is what the Russian editor of the magazine Global Affairs, Fyodor Lukyanov, told the newspaper Moscow Times After the chaotic photos from Afghanistan this weekend.

Lukyanov is also an advisor to Russian President Vladimir PutinAnd He is well known in both Norway and the Nordic countries since his time on the Swedish-language editorial board of Radio Moscow.

He described the withdrawal of the United States and NATO from Afghanistan as “a public relations disaster of proportions that will go down in the history books.”

Taliban in Kabul

Taliban soldiers on the streets of Kabul. Russia is likely to play a more active role in Afghanistan after the defeat of the United States and NATO.

Photo: Rahmat Gul / AP

It is believed that the United States ignored the traditions of the Afghans

“To think that you can make Afghans live the way you do in the West is naive,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

He believes that Americans’ biggest mistake was trying to “impose their values ​​on the rest of the world, while ignoring the traditions under which people have lived for hundreds of years.”

Lavrov and the Taliban

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov believes that the West has failed to impose its values ​​on the Afghan people.

Photo: Pavel Golovkin / AP

Although the Russian authorities officially define the Taliban as a terrorist organization, delegations from the movement have been in Moscow regularly in recent years.

In March of this year, the man who now appears as one of the organization’s top leaders, Abdul Ghani Baradar, attended a conference in the Russian capital.

In July of this year, there were new talks in which the Taliban confirmed that they would not allow Afghanistan to be used as a base for terrorists.

Taliban and Moscow

Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Moscow in connection with a conference in March 2021.

Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

Compare the Soviet withdrawal

Many Russians compare it to the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989.

By 1979, the Soviet Union was trying to secure its interests in the country through a major military operation in support of the country’s communist government. At the same time, the United States supported the Taliban’s predecessors in the Mujahideen insurgency.

After losing 15,000 Soviet soldiers, the troops were withdrawn and power was handed over to the pro-Soviet government.

– I think we managed to stabilize the situation, said Vasily Kravtsov Moscow Times.

He served as an advisor to the communist-dominated government in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Later he was also appointed to the Russian Embassy in Kabul.

Kravtsov notes that the government of Muhammad Najibullah managed to stay in power for three years after the Soviet march in 1989. According to Kravtsov, it was the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 that caused its downfall.

However, he did not mention that Najibullah suffered a tragic death after being captured, tortured and later hanged from a lamppost by the Taliban in 1996.

Russian war materials

Russian war material from the 1980s is still found in many places around Afghanistan, such as here in the Bazark district northwest of the capital, Kabul.

Photo: VICE KOHSAR / AFP

It does not recognize the Taliban – at the moment

The Russian Foreign Ministry was also quick to say that a complete evacuation of the embassy in Kabul was out of the question.

While most western countries, Including Norway, has evacuated both its territory and locally An embassy employee, and that’s how Russia will remain.

On Tuesday, Ambassador Dmitry Zhirnov held what he described as a constructive and positive meeting with Taliban representatives.

However, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made it clear that it is not yet appropriate to recognize the Taliban.

Did the Russians help the Taliban?

The US military’s allegations that Russian intelligence offered Taliban fighters money for every dead US soldier they could document has not been fully documented.

But there is no doubt that the Russian army, many of whom have deep knowledge of the complex tribal system in Afghanistan, continues to operate in the country, with the aim of weakening the position of the United States.

In practice this has been the dominant policy of Russia and President Vladimir Putin since he was in one 2007 letter The United States accused.

Putin’s main message was and still is that the Americans put themselves above international law, under the guise of what they themselves call the fight against terrorism and for democracy.

Since then, Russia has sought to return to the international political arena, but without some success.

Christmas gift for Russian intelligence

In addition, Russian intelligence may already be on the way to securing what they can the huge arsenal of American equipment they have now seized for the Afghan army.

Admittedly, the Americans made sure that the most sensitive and modern equipment was shipped out of the country early.

Afghan Black Hawk

American Black Hawk helicopters are to be the type of military equipment now controlled by the Taliban, which is of interest to Russian intelligence as well. This photo is from Helmand Province in March 2021.

Photo: VICE KOHSAR / AFP

But there is no doubt that the collapse of the Afghan army is a Christmas gift for Russian intelligence, which in a relatively simple way can get first-hand information about the capabilities of weapons systems.

Of particular interest to the Russian islands is the fact that many modern helicopters are now in the hands of the Taliban, which they themselves trusted after taking control of the Kandahar airport.

Do terrorist groups regain their foothold?

At the same time, there are many in Russia, not least the country’s allies in Central Asia, who fear that Afghanistan will once again become a hotbed of terrorist groups targeting itself.

Thus, positive statements about the Taliban are accompanied by reservations. The Russian authorities know they can quickly retaliate against themselves as apostates, if it turns out that radical Islamists will be allowed to operate out of previously ungoverned Afghanistan.

It is known that radical Islamic groups from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan were very active when already in July the Taliban began to control the border crossings with Central Asian countries in northern Afghanistan.

Tajikistan - Afghanistan border

The situation on the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan is tense in the wake of the Taliban takeover.

Photo: STRINGER/RUSSIA/Reuters

It also caused great concern about the Taliban leaving Border control Against Tajikistan, a group of Tajik Islamists.

This is also why Russia, along with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, in recent weeks has conducted large military exercises near the border with Afghanistan.

Will Russia fill the void?

Russia has a military base in Tajikistan that houses more than 6000 soldiers. Until 2005, the Russian border guards also controlled the border with Afghanistan.

The Russian Foreign Ministry signed on Wednesday their websitesAccording to a statement from Lavrov, “the internal problem of Afghanistan can be resolved through negotiations in which all local political, ethnic and religious forces participate.”

Many are excited about whether Russia, after the chaotic US withdrawal, now wants to fill the void and play an important role in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

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