Taliban current reality, can gain legitimacy by ending terror: Russian diplomat
The Taliban movement is a “current reality” in Afghanistan as it will shape the formation of the next government in Kabul but the group will gain legitimacy only when it effectively deals with the problem of terrorism, a senior Russian diplomat said on Wednesday.
Russia is closely coordinating with India on the situation in Afghanistan because India is a “big player” in the region and has supported the economic and social development of the war-torn country with investments of more than $3 billion, Russian deputy chief of mission Roman Babushkin told an online news briefing.
Against the backdrop of the Afghan government looking to countries such as India, the US and Russia for air support, especially helicopters and logistics, to bolster its fight against the Taliban, Babushkin ruled out any military intervention. He, however, said Russia is keeping open the option of helping Central Asian states bordering Afghanistan under the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) if instability spills over the frontiers.
“The Taliban is a current reality in Afghanistan. It’s a party [to the] intra-Afghan talks, which we believe should be the solution for normalisation and establishment of an inclusive government which should be involving all major ethnic groups,” he said.
“Let us realise that there is a common approach supported by everyone – that Taliban should deal with the problem of terrorism and other related issues in order to become legitimate, in order to [get] delisted [at the UN Security Council], in order to go ahead with the future Afghanistan and creation of the inclusive government,” he added.
Noting that the Taliban and al-Qaeda are both banned by Russia, Babushkin said his country believes all terrorist organisations are illegal and should be eliminated. “We are quite committed to tackle the threat of terrorism in Afghanistan...The Russian position is consistent when it comes to international terrorism,” he said.
Babushkin said it was for India to decide on the role it intends to play in Afghanistan, while the world community should motivate all Afghan stakeholders to start the intra-Afghan talks as envisaged in the 2020 deal between the US and the Taliban. “Everyone welcomed the understanding between the US and Taliban, and Russia is in favour of implementation of these commitments,” he said.
Any inclusive government formed through talks should ensure Afghanistan remains independent, sovereign, united, peaceful and democratic, he added.
Babushkin evaded a direct reply to a question on India establishing contacts with some elements of the Taliban and said, “Taliban is present in Afghanistan...and certainly it would be useful to deal with everyone in the region so that the national interests would be better ensured.”
Asked about the possibility of India and Russia working together to help the Afghan forces with air support and servicing of Russian-origin military hardware, Babushkin said there was no military solution and ruled out any military intervention.
Babushkin acknowledged that Russia is concerned about the instability in Afghanistan spilling over into Central Asian states and is keeping open the option of cooperation under the CSTO, which includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
“We will be acting through the CSTO, a collective security organisation, by supporting our allies to fortify their borders with Afghanistan if it would be required...We are watching the situation so that we could support our allies by providing necessary military equipment as well as by intensifying joint exercises,” he said.
Babushkin also said India and Russia are set to hold their first 2+2 meeting of foreign and defence ministers this year, ahead of the annual summit.