Taliban no longer enemy of Russia: Envoy

MOSCOW — The Russian special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, stated that the Taliban in Afghanistan are no longer considered an enemy by his country.

In an interview with TASS, the Russian state media, Kabulov explained that the Taliban have expressed trust in Moscow.

“I don’t mean to say that the Taliban are our number one friends, but obviously, they are not enemies. The Taliban openly say that they trust Russia as the former Soviet Union’s successor,” Kabulov told TASS.

He also connected the Taliban’s history to their fight against the Soviet Union and its supportive government in Afghanistan.

“The Taliban are former mujahideen who fought against the Soviet army and the former Afghan regime that was supported by the Soviet Union,” Kabulov said. “And having fought against other foreign troops, they concluded that the Soviet Union not only waged war in Afghanistan but also built infrastructure. They acknowledge that the Soviet Union had no expansionist plans.”

Despite the Taliban’s criticism of the former Soviet Union’s actions in Afghanistan, the envoy noted their recognition of the Soviet Union’s contribution to the country’s modernization.

“Yes, the Soviet Union had its specific worldviews, which ran counter to Afghanistan’s traditional views. The Taliban consider that our actions were wrong but they credit the real contribution to Afghanistan’s modernization made by the Soviet Union,” Kabulov said.

The Russian envoy described the relations between Russia and the Taliban as improving, while also acknowledging “certain political limits.”

Reflecting on the evolving relationship, Kabulov stated: “Some time ago, when the Taliban were fighting against the Americans, they said: the Americans have watches, but we have time. Now Russia has both watches and time.”

This statement comes ahead of the third round of the Doha meeting of special envoys on Afghanistan, scheduled for next month.

Russia has kept its embassy open in Kabul and accepted the Taliban’s ambassador at the chargé d’affaires level, but it has not yet formally recognized the Taliban.