On Thursday, July 8, a delegation of the Taliban* movement paid a visit to Moscow to assure the Kremlin that the Taliban* does not threaten either Russia or its allies in Central Asia. Needless to mention that those statements cannot be trusted.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Putin's aide for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov met with a Taliban delegation on Thursday, July 8, to express concerns over escalation of the crisis in northern Afghanistan. Kabulov urged Taliban representatives not to allow militants to move beyond the borders of Afghanistan.
"We received assurances from the Taliban that they will not violate the borders of the Central Asian countries, as well as their security guarantees for foreign diplomatic and consular missions in Afghanistan," Kabulov said.
According to TASS, Taliban* spokesman Mohammad Sohail Shahin said that the delegation arrived in Moscow to "assure that we will not allow anyone to use the territory of Afghanistan to attack either Russia or neighboring countries."
"We have very good relations with Russia," he added.
The delegation of the radical movement also expressed their firm resolve to fight the threat of ISIS* in Afghanistan and to eradicate drug production in the country after the cessation of the civil war, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Boris Dolgov, leading researcher at the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies, Doctor of Historical Sciences, noted that the Taliban was not a single, homogeneous movement. The organisation consists of a number of smaller movements, and there are movements within the organisation that oppose each other.
Secondly, the expert continued, Al-Qaeda* and ISIS* militants operate in Afghanistan together with the Taliban*. The latter "were deliberately deployed to the area of contact between Afghanistan and Tajikistan in order to promote terrorist jihad in Tajikistan, and then against Russia."
Boris Dolgov believes that one should take the promises of the Taliban into consideration, but one should not trust them and keep both eyes open instead.
"In general, there is no place for the verb 'to trust' in politics, especially when it goes about militants. At the same time, the statements made indicate that the part of the Taliban has no intention to conduct open hostile activities against Russia and her allied states," said Boris Dolgov.
The expert added that despite the fact that the Taliban is banned in the Russian Federation, it is possible to negotiate with Taliban representatives.
"We've had such experience before, for example, in Syria, after part of radical and Islamist groups agreed to a truce. So this is not something extraordinary. Without negotiations, ending hostilities is impossible. Therefore, these negotiations are necessary, provided all the above-mentioned circumstances," Boris Dolgov told Pravda. Ru.
The United States, as part of the NATO contingent, is withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan after the 20-year war with the Taliban. As many as 34 regional capitals are surrounded by militants, including the key northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, local mass media report. US intelligence estimates that Ashraf Ghani's current Afghan government could collapse in six months or in a year, although that could happen earlier as Afghan troops like to surrender without a fight.
Afghanistan's longest border — about 1,000 kilometers — goes along Tajikistan. The Taliban already control two-thirds of it, the Russian Foreign Ministry says. It is Russian border guards who have been protecting the Tajik-Afghan border since the collapse of the USSR. In 2005, border protection was completely transferred to the jurisdiction of the Committee for the Protection of the State Border of Tajikistan. The border department of the FSB of the Russian Federation in Tajikistan was transformed into an operational border group without a military component.
It is worthy of note that Russia has the 201st army base in Tajikistan — this is Russia's largest army base in a foreign state.
"The Taliban has taken control of border posts on the border with Iran and on the border with Tajikistan. As long as this is happening on the territory of Afghanistan, we are not going to take any measures other than repeating our insistent calls for the political process to start as soon as possible," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday, July 7.
*Terrorist organizations, banned in Russia.