Russia to lift ban on Taliban, Sergei Lavrov says they are ‘real power’ in Afghanistan

The development came three years after the Taliban returned to power in war-torn Afghanistan.

Livemint
First Published27 May 2024
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.(REUTERS)

Vladimir Putin-led Russian government will remove the Taliban from a list of banned terrorist organisations, according to the state-run news agency RIA Novosti.

The development came three years after the Taliban returned to power in war-torn Afghanistan.

ALSO READ: Afghanistan floods: Fifty people lost their lives due to heavy rains

Since 2003, the Taliban group has been designated as a terrorist outfit in Russia.

“Kazakhstan has recently taken the decision, which we are also going to take, to remove them from the list of terrorist organisations,” RIA Novosti quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Monday.

At the end of 2023, Kazakhstan had removed the Taliban from its list of banned organisations.

Despite international sanctions on the Taliban, Russia has fostered its ties with the government run by the banned outfit in Afghanistan.

Moscow had also held multiple rounds of talks and boosted trade with Kabul.

But, Russia has not recognised Afghanistan’s Taliban government officially yet.

The state news agency TASS, citing Zamir Kabulov - director of the Second Asia Department at the Russian foreign ministry, reported that Russia’s foreign and justice ministries have reported to President Putin on the issue of removing the ban on the Taliban.

ALSO READ: The Taliban warn journalists and experts against cooperating with Afghanistan International TV

The latest move by Russia could further boost diplomacy between Moscow and Kabul.

According to RIA Novosti, Lavrov said Russia's decision was about recognising the realities on the ground.

“They are the real power. We are not indifferent to Afghanistan. And above all, our allies in Central Asia are not indifferent,” he added.

Moscow has also invited Taliban representatives to its flagship Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum, once seen as the cornerstone of Russia’s economic relations with the West, said state media.

Russia’s economic event will be held on June 5-8.

Kabulov also said that Afghan leaders were traditionally interested in buying oil products, as per TASS.

In 2021, after United States-led forces withdrew after 20 years of war, the Taliban had seized power in Afghanistan.

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