Kabul's situation better under Taliban than it was under Ghani: Russia
Russia's ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhirnov has praised the Taliban's conduct describing their approach as "good, positive and business-like" and said the hardline Islamist group had made Kabul safer in the first 24 hours than it had been under the previous authorities. "The situation is peaceful and good and everything has calmed down in the city. The situation in Kabul now under the Taliban is better than it was under (President) Ashraf Ghani," Zhirnov said while speaking to Moscow's Ekho Moskvy radio station, according to Reuters.
"Yesterday the regime fell like a house of cards. There was a feeling of disorder, a power vacuum, and looters came out on the streets," Zhirnov said, reported Reuters. Ghani fled on Sunday as the Taliban seized control of the country with lightning speed stunning countries across the world. The Afghan president said he left the country as he wanted to prevent bloodshed. There is no official confirmation of his whereabouts.
Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti reported that the Russian embassy in Kabul alleged on Monday that Ghani fled from Kabul with four cars and a helicopter full of cash. "The collapse of the regime ... is most eloquently characterised by how Ghani escaped from Afghanistan: four cars were filled with money, they tried to shove another part of the money into a helicopter, but not everything fit. And some of the money was left lying on the tarmac,” embassy spokesman Nikita Ishchenko was quoted saying in the report.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin's special representative on Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said on Monday Ghani’s flight from Kabul was “disgraceful,” and that the Afghan president “deserves to be brought to justice and held accountable by the Afghan people.”
Zhirnov said initially unarmed Taliban units had entered the capital and asked government and US forces to surrender their weapons and their main armed units entered later once Ghani fled and imposed a curfew. The Russian ambassador added the Taliban have already taken control of the security perimeter of the Russian embassy, which has over 100 staff. He said he would hold detailed security talks with the Taliban on Tuesday.
The Taliban had promised, in line with earlier agreements, to protect Russian diplomats, he said. He said schools in Kabul, including those for girls, had started functioning again.
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Russia has reached out to the Taliban in recent years and hosted its representatives in Moscow several times, most recently last month. The country once tried and failed to control the hardline Islamist group before the Soviet Union withdrew its last forces in 1989.
Kabulov said on Monday that Moscow's long campaign to build ties with the Taliban appeared now to be paying off. "It's not for nothing that we've been establishing contacts with the Taliban movement for the last seven years. We saw that this force would in the end if not completely come to power would play a leading role in the future of Afghanistan in any case," Kabulov told Ekho Moskvy.
Kabulov said Russia would decide on recognising the new Taliban government based "on the conduct of the new authorities" and that his country "established working contacts with representatives of the new authorities".
(With agency inputs)