Taliban, Russia sign deal for fuel, gas and wheat: Reuters

A gasoline shop in Kabul. January, 2022. Photo: Reuters.

The Taliban has signed a provisional deal with Russia to supply gasoline, diesel, gas and wheat to Afghanistan, the Taliban’s acting minister of industry and commerce, Nooruddin Azizi, said as quoted by Reuters.

He said they are working to diversify their trading partners and that Russia has offered the Taliban a discount to average global commodity prices.

The deal includes the supply of at least one million tons of gasoline, one million tons of diesel, 500,000 tons of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and two million tons of wheat annually, Azizi said as quoted by Reuters.

Reuters says that Russia’s energy and agriculture ministries and the office of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, who is in charge of oil and gas, did not immediately respond.

According to the report, the agreement will run for an unspecified trial period, after which both sides were expected to sign a longer-term deal if they were content with the arrangement.

Reuters report says that the Taliban official declined to provide details on pricing or payment methods, but added that Russia has agreed to a discount to global markets on goods that would be delivered to Afghanistan by road and rail.

Experts said that Russians are trying to move against the US direction and show their presence in Afghanistan.

“Russians have signed the contract for three reasons: first, they want to prevent the Taliban from intervention in Central Asia, especially Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Second, they want to open the way for the sale of fuel and gas to South Asia, and third, Russians say yes in places where the US says no,” said Sayed Massoud, a former lecturer at Kabul University.

Russia has not recognized the Taliban as a government but Moscow has hosted the leaders of the group after the fall of Kabul and has kept its embassy open in Afghanistan.

Western diplomats have said that the recognition of the Taliban is bound to a major change in the Taliban’s treatment of human rights, women’s rights, girls’ education, cutting its ties with terrorist groups and other relevant matters.