Russia moves towards recognising the Taliban

The Bell

Russia is planning to recognise the Taliban as the lawful government of Afghanistan and remove it from the list of “banned” organizations. This will put an end to the absurd situation where Taliban representatives are officially received in the Kremlin, while journalists can be jailed for mentioning them in their articles.

  • Russia is set to remove the Taliban, which seized power in Afghanistan in 2021, from its list of banned organizations, TASS reported on Monday. The step has been agreed upon by the foreign ministry and the justice ministry, and has been reported to Vladimir Putin. The foreign ministry anticipates that after this, Moscow will recognize the Taliban as the legal government in Afghanistan. The move could come ahead of Aug. 19, when the Taliban celebrates Afghanistan’s independence day — the date it seized control from the US-backed government and, as it says, threw off “three empires in three centuries”:  Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States.
  • The Taliban has been a banned organization in Russia since 2003. However, the more Russia’s relations with the West deteriorated, the warmer the relationship with the Taliban became. The true start of closer contacts came in 2015, when Russia got involved in the conflict in Syria. At that time, the Russian authorities relied on the Taliban’s enmity towards ISIS and Al-Qaeda (also banned in Russia). Moscow’s position was partially rewarded when the Taliban seizure of power became inevitable — at a time of total panic in Kabul in August 2021, Russia’s embassy worked normally under a guard of militants.
  • Since their return to power, Taliban delegations have regularly visitedRussia. This year, the Taliban-run foreign ministry strongly condemned the terror attack on the Crocus City Hall in Moscow, blaming it on ISIS, and in May an official Taliban delegation attended the “Russia – Islamic World” forum. 
  • Throughout all this, Russian state media have continued to accompanyany mention of the Taliban with the label “banned organization.” For everyone else, even a mention of the Taliban carries the threat of a criminal charge. Just two weeks ago, journalist Nadezhda Kevorkova was arrested in Moscow on charges of “justifying terrorism.” One of the two accusations against her is justifying the Taliban’s terrorist activities. She faces up to seven years in jail.

Why the world should care

Despite grinding poverty at home, Afghanistan holds significant natural resources, including globally significant stocks of lithium and nickel (read more about this here). However, developing these resources is difficult, whether due to the lack of protection for investors or the absence of infrastructure and technology. For now, Russia’s relationship with the Taliban remains political, and the common factor remains their shared anti-Western agenda. Afghanistan’s main international partners are Iran, China and Pakistan. The Taliban mostly wants Russian cheap grain and fuel.


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