Russia invites Taliban to major economic forum


MOSCOW — Russia has invited the Taliban to attend its largest annual economic forum, signaling a potential shift in Moscow’s stance towards the group, a senior Russian diplomat said Monday.

Since the Taliban seized power in August 2021, Russia has cautiously built ties with the Taliban, despite it still being officially outlawed in the country.

Zamir Kabulov, director of the Second Asia Department at the Russian Foreign Ministry, told state news agency TASS that the foreign and justice ministries have reported to President Vladimir Putin about the possibility of lifting the ban on the Taliban.

“Some questions remain,” Kabulov said, noting that an invitation had been extended to the Taliban to attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, scheduled for June 5-8.

Kabulov mentioned that “Afghan leaders” are traditionally interested in purchasing oil products.

The St. Petersburg forum, once a gathering for Western CEOs and investment bankers, has seen a significant shift in attendance amid the Ukraine war. The conflict has triggered the biggest crisis in Russia’s relations with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Western investors seeking opportunities in Russia’s vast resource wealth have now been replaced by businesses from China, India, Africa, and the Middle East.