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Pragmatic Russia and Iran ready to truck with Taliban, amid concerns

Pragmatic Russia and Iran ready to truck with Taliban, amid concerns (Image: TASS)

Russia and Iran, two countries which will be deeply impacted by Taliban’s return to power  in Afghanistan, are ready to engage with the militant group, provided it mends its ways.

For both countries, the exit of the United States from the heart of the Hindukush mountains is a big strategic gain, but Taliban’s return also spells dangers to  regional security that cannot be wished away. Radical Sunni groups next door are a big concern for the Shia dominated Iran, while Russia fears rapid radicalisation in Central Asia—its traditional backyard–and its own territories such a Dagestan and Chechnya which has been rocked by terrorism in the past. The embers of terror are still aglow in these territories.

Unsurprisingly, pragmatic Russia reached out to the Taliban, but kept a full recognition of a new government on hold, saying it will take a final call based on the group’s conduct on the ground.

Also read:  China ready to deepen ties with Taliban as part of great game against West

Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhirnov, on Tuesday  will meet  the Taliban’s coordinator to discuss ensuring the security of the Russian embassy, Russian Presidential envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said in an interview with Echo of Moscow radio station. "Our ambassador is in contact with representatives of the Taliban leadership. Tomorrow, as he told me just ten minutes ago, he will meet with the coordinator from the Taliban leadership for ensuring security, including our embassy," he said, as quoted by the Russian Tass news agency.


Kabulov then explained that  "the Russian leadership will make a decision on recognizing the regime of the Taliban movement, depending on how responsibly they will govern the country".

"No one is going to hurry in this regard. The recognition or the non-recognition will depend on the behaviour of the new authorities. We will watch closely how responsibly they will govern the country in the near future. Following these results, the Russian leadership will make the necessary conclusions," the Russian diplomat said.

A Moscow based insider told India Narrative that the Russians did not anticipate that the Taliban would mount such a rapid advance. He pointed out that Russia is really worried that the largely secular governments of Central Asia, with active and extensively networked pro-Taliban insurgents,  have been put on notice. “The Taliban victory can also  inflame radical elements, who have been quashed by Russia's extensive use of military force,  in  Chechnya, Dagestan and elsewhere.”

Also read:  Taliban wraps up war in Afghanistan, head for full political control

The Russians are also concerned about the fate of their giant connectivity projects such as the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and the route from Chabahar to Herat, in Afghanistan which they want to intertwine.

The Iranians, known for their long tradition of cold-blooded statecraft, are happy to see the exit of US forces—their first priority– but are apprehensive  about the rise of radicalism on their doorstep as the secondary danger.  

Without naming the Taliban, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani said on Monday that, "As in last 40 years, we support the people of Afghanistan and their will," as reported by IRNA, Iran’s state news agency.

In a Twitter message on Monday, Shamkhani wrote: "During a visit to #Kabul in 2019, I had a challenging meeting with the President of #Afghanistan."

"Today, their Defence Minister's sorrowful remarks translated the effects of the 20-year occupation by the US. As in the last 40 years, we support the people of Afghanistan & their will, " he further noted.