Russia is ready to support Afghanistan in launching an interethnic dialogue with the aim of forming a new inclusive government and criticizes former President Ghani for missing this chance while in power in Kabul.
Moreover, it is proposed to engage the Moscow-led format, which includes Central Asian countries as well.
The updated detailed statement on the rapidly evolving changing situation in Afghanistan was made during the regular foreign ministry’s press briefing on Thursday, 19 August 2021.
Here is the full text of the statement, divided into subheadings for easy perception:
Taliban are restoring order in the country – Ghani is responsible for what happened
“In addition to earlier statements by Russian officials, we would like to add the following as we take the questions that we receive in the wake of changes in the political situation in Afghanistan.
The Taliban came to power in Kabul on August 15 which is an undeniable fact, a reality that the international community should certainly be mindful of when building relations with Afghanistan. The central province of Panjshir where Afghan Tajiks led by former vice-president Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Shah Massoud’s son formed armed resistance remains outside the Taliban’s control.
President Ashraf Ghani, who fled the country and was recently found in the UAE, is undoubtedly responsible for what happened. Over the past three years, he has been well placed to ensure the success of the intra-Afghan peace process and to facilitate the smooth formation of an inclusive government with the participation of all the country’s ethnopolitical forces. However, this chance was missed.
We note that the Taliban have actively got to grips with restoring order and are showing commitment to establishing a dialogue with influential Afghan political leaders, in particular, former IRA President Hamid Karzai, about the future state form of government, and are willing to accommodate the interests of the citizens, including the rights of women.”
Russia stands for a nationwide dialogue
“I would like to draw your attention to today’s comment by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, which he made during a news conference pointing out that when Afghanistan was in the grip of a civil war, we advocated urgent transition to a nationwide dialogue with the participation of all opposing Afghan forces and ethnic and religious groups in the country.
Likewise, now that the Taliban have taken power in Kabul and most other cities and provinces, Russia stands for a nationwide dialogue that will lead to forming a representative government which, with the support of the citizens of Afghanistan, will proceed to develop agreements on political arrangements in this multi-ethnic country.”
“Speaking about how this can be accomplished, just like in recent years, it can be addressed as part of the expanded troika (Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan) and the Moscow format, which are internationally recognised as the most effective mechanisms for promoting international support for the Afghan settlement.
Russia stood strongly for the early start of these talks. The government and the President of Afghanistan had arrangements on this account, but were sluggish in their attempts to act on them, which we have already commented on, including during our briefings. Accordingly, what happened did happen. This is a reality that we have to deal with, and to use diplomacy, knowledge of history and the entire toolset that includes diplomatic skills.
We reaffirm our unwavering course on creating an external environment for providing every support to the nationwide dialogue in Afghanistan. I would like to remind you of our commitment to the corresponding resolutions of the UN Security Council. We believe (Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov mentioned this today) that the Moscow format has the best prospects.
The situation has taken on a regionwide dimension. Neighbouring countries that are located further away from Afghanistan are responding to it. All five Central Asian states, as well as China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Russia, the United States and the conflicting parties themselves, are part of the Moscow format.
No official proposals have been made so far, but, as Sergey Lavrov noted, the effectiveness of this “support group” during Afghan talks has always been recognised by everyone. Russia stands ready to resume the Moscow format, if deemed appropriate. We are taking note of all the statements coming from the Taliban who are willing to establish dialogue with other political forces in Afghanistan. They have already announced a number of meetings with representatives of political forces.”
Ethnic Afghans with Russian citizenship want to migrate to Russia
“ The Russian Embassy in Kabul, including its consular department, continues to operate as usual. Working relations are being established with the new authorities, primarily, in order to ensure the Russian citizens’ safety, as well as the smooth functioning of our foreign mission. The consular work is held back by certain difficulties stemming from the collapse of the former state system. For example, the legalisation of documents has been suspended for obvious reasons due to the collapse of the previous state structure and the civil service in Afghanistan.
About 100 Russian citizens are registered with the consular department, mostly ethnic Afghans, who at various times studied in Russia or the Soviet Union, got married, obtained citizenship, and then returned to their historical homeland. The embassy’s consular service is focusing on working with them and other Russian citizens. Notably, the majority of such requests concern providing assistance in transporting people out to the Russian Federation. All these requests will be carefully reviewed.
Importantly, no one is talking about evacuating the embassy staff or Russian citizens residing in Afghanistan. As of now, routine arrangements are underway to organise several charter flights. We have done this before amid the coronavirus pandemic when we engaged the local company Ariana Afghan Airlines. Since this is no longer an option, we are planning to organise special flights, including for Russian citizens who want to leave Afghanistan. The Taliban representatives assured us that there would be no obstacles to us doing this and provided corresponding safety guarantees.
We have no knowledge or information about any of our citizens being affected as a result of the known events of the past days at the airport in Kabul.”
On the prospects of trade and economic partnership between Russia and Afghanistan
“We believe it is too early to make any predictions about future trade and economic relations between Russia and Afghanistan under the new regime.
However, there is no reason to believe that they will not receive a boost after the state bodies resume normal operations and calm is restored in Afghan society.
Other matters are now on the agenda, which we will certainly cover in our comments as information becomes available.”
Russia’s political and diplomatic endeavors to bring the situation in Afghanistan to its logical conclusion, namely, the formation of an inclusive government in Kabul, have a positive prospect. The assertions are supported by the Taliban’s behavior, who have previously demonstrated a willingness to cooperate with Russia.
According RIA Novosti news agency, citing Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhirnov, a high-ranking representative of the Taliban political office visited the Embassy. Aware of Russia’s great authority among various political forces in Afghanistan, he asked to convey a political message to the Panjshir rebels.
“Literally, they asked Russia to convey the following to the leaders of Panjshir: “so far, the Taliban have not made any attempt to enter Panjshir by force, the group expects to find a peaceful way to resolve the situation, for example, through reaching a political agreement. The Taliban do not want bloodshed and are committed to dialogue. < … > The Taliban themselves want to resolve the situation in a more civilized way than what former First Vice President Saleh wants to do, ” the Ambassador said. /// nCa, 23 August 2021