SYDNEY, August 17. /TASS/. Russia and China will use the opportunity opened by the US after Washington withdrew its troops from Afghanistan and will increase their influence in the country if Moscow and Beijing establish relations with the Taliban (outlawed in Russia), Tony Kevin, Australian international politics expert, told TASS.
According to him, the collapse of President Ashraf Ghani’s government came as a sudden shock only for some states, while "neighbouring great powers China and Russia had been quietly preparing for this expected outcome for months" and engaged in contacts with the Taliban. Kevin believes that Moscow and Beijing are primarily concerned about maintaining security, adding that Russia can now formalize these contacts with the Taliban to reaffirm its security obligations before former Soviet Central Asian republics.
"China has offered substantial economic help through the Belt and Road Initiative to the Taliban, with the agreed quid pro quo that the Taliban will not support any Islamist insurgencies in the Xinjiang province of China," Kevin pointed out. "Russia and China are quite capable of filling any political vacuum in the Middle East region."
China and Russia are yet to announce their readiness to recognize the Taliban as the new ruler of Afghanistan. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, noting that the two countries should protect their legitimate interests in Afghanistan, while the new Afghan authorities should sever ties with terrorism. In turn, Russia’s Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov pointed out that the Taliban leadership proved to be more capable of negotiating that the country’s previous puppet government.
Speaking about the prospects of settling the Afghanistan crisis, the Australian expert voiced hope that Western countries won’t resort to military power to put pressure on the radical movement because it won’t make any sense. "Afghanistan’s economic and social reconstruction could be swift, provided it is not handicapped by continuing Western military interventions. There are some angry and vengeful voices in the Five Eyes strategic community already calling for continuing American drone and bomber-launched missile attacks on Afghanistan cities from the air. No military purpose would be served now by such prolongation of hostilities and I hope that President Biden would firmly veto any such pointless aggression," he said.
The West expressed concerns over the Taliban’s rise to power, demanding that the country should not be transformed into a haven for terrorists but did not voice support for a military operation. Washington warned that it would resolutely react to any Taliban attacks on Americans.
Kevin worked in the Australian Embassy in Moscow in the late 1960s and later served as Ambassador to Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Cambodia.