Russia says Taliban has made Kabul safer in first day


MOSCOW, Aug. 16 : The Russian ambassador in Afghanistan welcomed the Taliban conduct on Monday and said that the group, still officially classified as a terrorist organization in Russia, had made Kabul safer in the first 24 hours than it had been under the previous authorities.

The comments by Ambassador Dmitry Zhirnov reflect an undisguised effort by Russia to deepen its well-established ties with the Taliban while stopping short for now of recognising the Hardline Islamist group as the legitimate rulers of a country which Russian itself failed and tried to control before Soviet Union withdrew its last forces in 1989.

Russia wants to ensure that the instability in Central Asia does not spill over into Afghanistan, part of the former Soviet Union it regards as its own backyard, and that it does not become a launchpad for other extreme Islamist groups.

Russia says it was surprised, as many other nations, by the illumination speed with which the Taliban seized control of the country even as U.S. forces were still trying to evacuate American citizens.

As Zhirnov was speaking to Moscow's radio station Ekho Moskvy, he said he had been impressed by the Taliban’s conduct so far, describing their approach as good, positive and business-like.

The situation is peaceful and good and everything has calmed in the City. The situation in Kabul is better now under Ghani than it was under Ashraf Ghani, said Zhirnov.

Ghani fled on Sunday, whose location is unknown, saying he wanted to prevent bloodshed.

Yesterday the regime fell like a house of cards, said Zhirnov. There was a feeling of disorder, a vacuum of power, and looters compelled people out on the streets.

He said initially unarmed Taliban units had entered the capital and demanded government and U.S. forces to surrender their weapons. The major Taliban units arrived later after Ghani had fled and had placed a curfew, he said.

Zhirnov said the Taliban controls the security perimeter of the Russian Embassy, which has over 100 people and that he will hold detailed security talks with them on Tuesday.

The Taliban had promised, in line with earlier agreements, to protect Russian diplomats, he said, saying Western fears about their behaviour had not yet been made clear.

He said schools in Kabul, including ones for girls, had started functioning again.

Russia's embassy in Germany says Washington's exit from Afghanistan shows that its geopolitical star is on the wane.

The objective reality is that Washington's rigid position of U.S. hegemony is receding into the past against the backdrop of China’s comfortable positions of Russia and China, said the embassy on Twitter on Sunday.

Vladimir Putin, President Vladimir Putin's special representative for Afghanistan, said on Monday that the long campaign of Moscow to build ties with the Taliban appeared now to be paying off.

It is not for nothing that we've been establishing contacts with the Taliban movement for the last seven years, Kabulov told Ekho Moskvy.

In any case, we saw that this force would not necessarily come to power in the end but would play a leading role in the future of Afghanistan.