Russia and the Taliban

On December 20, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the Taliban’s interests should be taken into account in the Afghanistan peace negotiations, as the organization administers a large amount of Afghan territory. When probed further on this issue at his annual year-end press conference, Putin claimed that public negotiations between the United States and the Taliban were “probably inevitable,” and that Russia would support a peaceful resolution to the conflict that engages all major political forces in Afghanistan.  

A recent analytical piece for the Valdai Discussion Club, authored by Richard Burchill, argued against Russian multilateral engagement with the Taliban by stating that the November 9 talks could encourage other militant organizations to believe that terrorism reaps dividends. Russia was accused by numerous Afghan government officials of legitimizing terrorism after the November 9 talks, and was only supported by Libya and Zimbabwe when it sought to strike down a UN motion on Afghanistan that ignored Moscow’s diplomatic role.