Russia Says Afghanistan Under Taliban Better Than Under Ghani - THE ENCOUNTER NEWS


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Russia Says Afghanistan Under Taliban Better Than Under Ghani

Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan has praised the Taliban’s conduct, saying that the group – which is still designated a terrorist organization in Russia – made Kabul “better” than it had been under the Afghan government.

While Dmitry Zhirnov did not yet officially acknowledge the Taliban to be the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan, his comments reflect a Russian effort to deepen ties with the Taliban.

Speaking on Moscow’s Ekho Moskvy radio on Monday, Mr. Zhirnov said that he was impressed with the Taliban’s “reasonable and business-like” conduct so far.

“The situation is peaceful and good and everything has calmed down in the city,” he said. “The situation in Kabul now under the Taliban is better than it was under Ashraf Ghani.”

After president Ghani fled the country on Sunday, Mr. Zhirnov said “the regime fell like a house of cards”.

“There was a feeling of disorder, a power vacuum, and looters came out on the streets.”

He told the radio station that unarmed Taliban units entered Kabul, asking government and US forces to surrender their weapons; later he said that armed units entered the city and imposed a curfew.

He added that schools in Kabul, including those for girls, had started functioning again.

Mr. Zhirnov said that he was expecting to hold security talks with the Taliban – who already surrounded the Russian embassy – on Tuesday, adding that the militant group had previously promised to protect Russian diplomats.

President Vladimir Putin’s special representative on Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said that Moscow had been building ties with the Taliban over the last several years, ties that they hoped would now pay off.

"It's not for nothing that we’ve been establishing contacts with the Taliban movement for the last seven years,” Mr. Kabulov said, also speaking on Ekho Moskvy radio.

“We saw that this force would in the end if not completely come to power would play a leading role in the future of Afghanistan in any case.”

He added that Russia would decide on whether or not to recognize the new Taliban government depending “on the conduct of the new authorities” and “how responsibly they govern the country shortly”.

Speaking on Russian state television on Monday, Mr. Kabulov added: “I have long decided that the Taliban is much more able to reach agreements than the puppet government in Kabul”.

Strengthening ties with the Taliban is an important geopolitical move for Russia, as an unstable Afghanistan risks becoming a launchpad for other extremist groups, enabling instability to spill into Central Asia, Russia’s backyard.

Taliban representatives have been hosted in Russia several times in recent years, and in July it was reported that Russia received assurances from the group that Afghanistan’s northern borders would not be used as a base for attacks on Central Asian states.

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