Russia: Taliban controls most of Afghanistan, bids to topple it doomed

President Vladimir Putin says reality is that Taliban has taken control of most of the country, and separately, Russian envoy to Afghanistan insists there is no alternative to the insurgent group and resistance to it will fail.

Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban’s military takeover of Afghanistan on August 20, 2021. (AFP)

Russian has called on the global community to prevent the “collapse” of Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover, saying there is no alternative to the insurgent group and resistance to it will fail.

“The Taliban movement control almost the entire territory of the country,” President Vladimir Putin told a televised press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Kremlin on Friday.

“These are the realities and it is from these realities that we must proceed, preventing the collapse of the Afghan state,” he added.

Both leaders said Afghanistan figured prominently during the outgoing German leader’s final working visit to Russia.

He went on to say that Russia learned itself how counterproductive it is to impose foreign forms of government on Afghanistan, referencing the Soviet invasion of the country that ended in withdrawal in 1989.

Criticising the “irresponsible policy” of imposing “outside values” on war-torn Afghanistan he said, “You cannot impose standards of political life and behaviour on other people from outside.”

The Russian president also highlighted the importance of preventing “terrorists” from entering neighbouring countries from Afghanistan, including “under the guise of refugees”.

Putin said it was not in Russia’s interests to dwell on the results of the US military campaign in Afghanistan and that it was important to establish good and neighbourly relations with Afghanistan.

He said that Moscow and its partners should unite to help people in Afghanistan.

He said Russia was interested in the country being stable which it was not at the moment.

In her remarks, Merkel said her country’s priority is to help those who helped NATO mission in Afghanistan to “safely depart” and “evacuate as many people as possible to Germany”.

Russian envoy: Resistance to Taliban is doomed

Meanwhile, Russia’s envoy to Afghanistan praised the conduct of the Taliban on Friday in the days since its takeover, saying there was no alternative to the group and resistance to it would fail.

The comments by Ambassador Dmitry Zhirnov reflect efforts by Russia to deepen already well-established ties with the Taliban while stopping short, for now, of recognising them as the legitimate rulers of a country.

Speaking to Reuters news agency from Kabul, Zhirnov said the security situation in the capital was much better than it was before the Taliban took control of it and spoke optimistically about the future.

“The mood in Kabul can be described as one of cautious hope,” said Zhirnov.

“There was a bad regime which disappeared and people are hopeful. They say it can’t be worse so it should be better. But this is another test for the Taliban to pass. After they restore order, they should start improving the socio-economic situation,” he said.

Kabul has been largely calm, except in and around the airport where 12 people have been killed since Sunday, NATO and Taliban officials said.

READ MORE:Afghan women voice their fears about Taliban rule

‘Ticket to a new life’

Zhirnov’s said efforts to hold out against the Taliban by former Afghan officials from Panjshir valley north of Kabul would fail.

“They have no military prospects. There are not many people there. As far as we know they have 7,000 armed people. And they already have problems with fuel. They tried to fly a helicopter but they have no petrol and no supplies,” he said.

Zhirnov also questioned the idea that all of the Afghans trying to flee the country were doing so because of the Taliban.

“Many people now see this situation now as a possible ticket to a new life (in the West) and this may not be related to the Taliban,” he said of the chaotic exodus.

READ MORE: Anti-Taliban forces coming together in Panjshir Valley, says Russia

Cautiously optimistic

Moscow has been cautiously optimistic about the new leadership in Kabul and is seeking contact with the insurgents in an effort to avoid instability spilling over to neighbouring ex-Soviet states.

The Kremlin has in recent years reached out to the Taliban –– which is banned as an “extremist” group in Russia –– and hosted its representatives in Moscow several times, most recently last month.

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