Russia believes the gains made by the Taliban in northern Afghanistan have resulted in increased security because the Taliban are hostile to extremist Islamists, whom Moscow considers more dangerous, a senior Russian diplomat said Tuesday and was quoted by the Interfax news agency.
The Taliban made major gains when US troops withdrew from the country after 20 years of fighting there. The exit of US troops is a security issue that worries Moscow because of the possibility that some refugees will enter Central Asia, Russia’s backyard, and destabilize defense lines in the south of the country.
But Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy in Afghanistan, was quoted by Interfax on Tuesday (20/7) as saying the Taliban’s advances in northern Afghanistan also have security advantages for Russia’s Central Asian allies such as Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Russia has expressed concern over what it describes as a growing force of ISIS-linked elements in northern Afghanistan. Kabulov was also quoted as saying the Taliban were at least trying to confront and defeat these groups.
The Interfax news agency also quoted Kabulov as saying Russia had so far seen no evidence that the Taliban were trying to cross the border into the territory of Tajikistan or Uzbekistan. [mg/jm]