Afghanistan terrorism may spread to Kashmir: Russian ambassador
Russia and India have the shared concern of terrorism emanating from Afghanistan spreading to Russian territory or to Kashmir, Russian ambassador Nikolay Kudashev said on Monday against the backdrop of the Taliban takeover in Kabul.
Counterterrorism cooperation is a key part of the India-Russia dialogue at various levels, and Moscow wants an inclusive government in Kabul to ensure stability and sustainable development in Afghanistan, Kudashev told reporters during an interaction at the Russian embassy.
Separately, Bangladesh information minister Hasan Mahmud, who is on an official visit to New Delhi, told reporters at the Press Club of India that his country is closely watching developments in Afghanistan as they have implications for regional stability.
“We are keeping an eye on that. Stability in Afghanistan is important for stability in the South Asian region,” Mahmud said. He added it was too early to talk about any recognition of a set-up formed by the Taliban.
Kudashev, who spoke to reporters on the margins of an event at the Russian embassy, said Russia is closely cooperating with India to counter the danger of terrorism emanating from Afghanistan. Any flare-up of the civilian conflict would result in terrorism spilling over across the region, he said.
“As far as the phenomenon of terror is concerned, we do share our concerns with India. There is a danger of terror...being spread to the Russian territory, to the territory of Kashmir maybe,” he said.
“We want an inclusive government, we expect that Afghan soil would not be a source of terror emanating to the other countries of the region,” he said.
“Thus, this is a matter of common concern and this is a matter of continued dialogue between Russia and India within multiple frameworks, be it the bilateral counterterrorism working group, [or] the track of national security councils [or] the track of defence ministers [and] foreign ministers,” he added.
Russia’s main concern is stability in Afghanistan and building an inclusive government that can “offer itself for recognition to the international community to secure stability and sustainable development”, Kudashev said.
Afghanistan “deserves peace, predictability and sustainable development, and India and Russia want “Afghanistan to be peaceful [and] friendly with each and every country in the region”, he said.
“These are the very basic values which bring Russia and India together. I don’t see much of a difference in our positions,” Kudashev added. Both countries are also cooperating on Afghanistan within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and its working group on Afghanistan.
Kudashev said it was too early to talk about any recognition of a set-up created by the Taliban. “The new Taliban dispensation should prove that it is a responsible government, that it is able to build an inclusive government, that it is able to look after each and every minority, each and every region of Afghanistan, that it is able to build predictable foreign ties...with the regional and international community,” he said.
“If that will be the case, we will be able to revisit this question,” he added.
Kudashev’s comments came against the backdrop of some amount of disquiet in New Delhi over Moscow’s efforts to work more closely with Islamabad on the issue of Afghanistan. India was kept out of several recent meetings of the “extended troika” format organised by Russia, and Pakistan was part of these discussions.
Zamir Kabulov, the Russian special presidential envoy for Afghanistan, had even said that India was not invited to participate in the “expanded troika” meetings because it does not have any influence on the Taliban.
Kudashev said in response to questions that India and Russia were expected to hold multiple interactions this year, including the annual bilateral summit, a 2+2 dialogue of the defence and foreign ministers, and meetings of the military and technical commission, trade and economic commission, and other expert-level groups. These meetings will focus on matters such as UN reforms, strategic stability, the emerging regional architecture in Asia and the Pacific, and challenges such as terrorism, drug trafficking and crime.
He noted there are “enormous opportunities” for bilateral cooperation in defence, oil and gas, nuclear power, space, infrastructure and connectivity. The Russian proposal to build six new nuclear reactors is still “on the table” and “it is for the Indian government to take a decision” on this matter, he said.
Kudashev said Russia is expected to deliver the first batch of S-400 air defence systems under a $5.4-billion deal by October. “There are no issues as far as the timeline is concerned. It would be performed in due course,” he said.