Russia’s return to Afghanistan

The situation in the West Asia region is changing every day. One day there appeared the Taliban and the Taliban (banned in Russia, ed.), and after some time — already IG (banned in Russia, ed.). One day was attacked in Yemen, and then in another the same day suddenly quarreled all the Arab state of Qatar. Did not have time in Saudi Arabia to be crowned Salman (bin Abdul-Aziz as-Saud), as after some time, the official heir to the throne is already declared his son the crown Prince Mohammed, who himself will become a monarch. Every area of this very troubled region like is a abscess or an abscess, which at the slightest jolt or excitement threatens to reveal. And in this region, almost in every state there and subnational players, which sometimes have a very significant impact on the fate and the situation in their country.

Sometimes this influence encompasses not only the country but the region or even the whole world. Afghanistan is one of the States of Western Asia, which still remained aloof from those tumultuous events, which have recently been filled with the region. But now, Afghanistan seems to be little by little coming back again in the headlines of releases, global and regional news. And perhaps this return we now and would not have watched if not for the stories associated with the contacts between Taliban and Russia.

CNN in one of his reports said: according to the obtained credible evidence, there is evidence that Russia… is now supplying weapons to the Afghan Taliban. In itself, this does not seem surprising — after all a great power has never neglected opportunities to influence the countries of the region, through contacts with sub-national groups. Sometimes they come with the latest in war, and sometimes stretch them a helping hand. Referred report reports that the American generals and commanders already some time ago raised the issue of supply of weapons that the Taliban allegedly received from Russia. And they believe that the Russians are actively arming militants of “Taliban” are being prepared with their participation, a kind of “invasion”, if it is scheduled for spring of next year. But they say the Taliban intend to use this weapon now without waiting for next spring in its ongoing military raids and operations. U.S. officials say that cannot confirm or deny such reports and statements.

CNN has posted a video that featured some weapons. In comments to the reports said that presented their machines such as the “Kalashnikov” and some other weapons are supposedly for snipers. There were also comments from experts stating that the rifles and machine guns don’t have labels, and, accordingly, it is impossible to establish the country of origin of these weapons. Thus, in the report there were also statements from the two factions of the Afghan Taliban (one North, the other from the West of Afghanistan), according to which these weapons belong to them. And they also said that these weapons are of Russian origin, and they did it at their disposal from the “state authorities of the Russian Federation”.

Another offshoot groups of the Taliban operating in the vicinity of Herat, also claimed that they managed to capture such weapons, with which they competed. Another group said that the weapons fell to the militants of the “free” near the border with Tajikistan, but supplied it, they say, still “Russian”. Although the CNN report was made that the submitted videos there is no documentary confirmation, and the channel has no indisputable evidence “of participation and presence of Russian officials” in these contacts with the Taliban, but it was also said that one cannot deny “the involvement of Russian” to a kind of “backroom deals”. While it was repeatedly reported that American and Afghan officials are concerned, “Russia’s intentions” in Afghanistan. Sadiq Sadiq, representative of the Afghan government, said: “the Russians said that they had contacts with the Taliban. And we have also received reports that the Russians supplying weapons to the Taliban. And it added that “the smoke is probably there’s fire”. And other officials of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan stated that they do not doubt the presence of “interaction” and “contacts” Russia and the Taliban.

CNN reported that, although Russian officials have not yet given any response to the data provided by the “informant” for the channel, however, according to previous statements by officials of the Russian Federation, such information is “completely false” and also, saying that it was all just rumors designed to “hide the truth about the past failures of America” in Afghanistan. We also add that according to the statements of officials (RF — approx. transl.), Russia is negotiating with the “Taliban” only “for the sake of peace” in this country.

General Joseph Votel, head of the Central command of the Armed forces of the United States in March, said at a hearing of the defense Committee in the U.S. Congress that he does not doubt the intentions of Russia firmly “settle” in Afghanistan and to influence the situation in the country. Also, according to him, the Russians certainly support the Taliban, in particular, by supplying the militants weapons. In one video, which was shown by CNN, a representative of one of the factions of the Taliban, centered in Herat, said that in one of the clashes, who were grouped under the command of Mullah Heybatulla (accepted by some groups for the leader of the movement “Taliban”, — approx. transl.), killed 18 militants from this group, wounded 6, and captured weapons (group Heybatulla — approx. transl.).

The commander of one faction of the Taliban operating in the vicinity of Herat, Mullah Abd-al-Mansoor Niyazi, for his part, said: “these weapons seized from the militants Heybatulla, fell to the fighters of his group from the Russian.” And added that the weapons be turned over to them ostensibly to engage armed groups of Taliban in the fight against ISIS. But, according to Niyazi, the group of Taliban used obtained from Russia arms for war “against our soldiers” (i.e., groups of fighters of the opponent, Niyazi — approx. transl.). In another video, one of the fighters of the Taliban, wearing a mask, stated that the weapons were not paid money. According to him, the money is “opium and the products made of it”. In other words, a weapon the rebels received in exchange for opium. And also added that the weapons were delivered via the border with Tajikistan. And some weapons have even labeled made in China.

About this weapon is possible the following assumptions. According to one version, the weapons are intentionally made without marking the country of origin, to really make it harder to track its origin. Benjamin king, a representative of the Fund “Small Arms Survey”, suggested that there are other reasons which may not be labeling the country of origin: countries producing the weapon, remove labels from whole batches of weapons, in order to make it easier, supplying weapons to influence the situation in the country for which it is intended, but the exporter remains in the shadows. And according to him, the weapons, as it turned out, is of Russian origin and into the hands of the Taliban, pressed into Afghanistan, perhaps for this scheme.

There is also another assumption according to which some part of the arms remained in Afghanistan since the Soviet times, or perhaps those countries that border Afghanistan (e.g., Tajikistan) transfer arms at the disposal of the Taliban, based on financial considerations, hoping to get money for Russian weapons (which are available from the countries bordering Afghanistan — approx. transl.). Or, the same countries have also deliberately supplying weapons to Afghanistan in order to influence the situation in the country. And finally, the third version comes from the fact that now for Russia the danger of the IG increased significantly, as it relates to Russian military presence in Syria. The military forces at the disposal of the so-called “Caliphate” of ISIS, have threatened that they will be able to penetrate into the Russian territory through Afghanistan and the Central Asian States. Because of this, Russia seeks to isolate dangerous for her militant groups beyond its borders, i.e. in the “near abroad”, and to keep them on their territory. Thus, it is possible that the Russian came to the conclusion about the need to arm the Afghan Taliban in order from the last to create a kind of barrier against the penetration of them into their territory. In addition to this, the Russians want to lead against ISIS military operations in Afghanistan are not themselves directly, but to use for this group, the Taliban, and at the same time, to reduce the risks associated with security and possible terror attacks on Russian territory.

Here it should be mentioned that the Autonomous Republic and the subjects of the Russian Federation, such as Chechnya and Dagestan, are considered to be susceptible to the ideology of ISIS and all sorts of radicalism and extremism. The New York Times, referring to the reports of the officials and UN officials, reports that the total number of attacks carried out in Afghanistan by suicide bombers in the first half of this year (according to Christian chronology) grew by 25% compared to the same period in 2016. And this is 220 dead and over a thousand wounded. Considering these data, some point the finger at the Taliban, blaming them and claiming that they have increased their activity, so that, on the one hand, to delude the Afghan security forces and to deprive them of the necessary vigilance, and with another — to give the “green light” forces subservient to the IG, give them the signal that says that Afghanistan is “your territory”. And some believe that these suicide bombings — the handiwork of militants, because they want to constrain, thus, the actions of the Afghan army and to make it a Taliban target for her punches, distracting the security forces of Afghanistan are the main threat posed by ISIS.

Thus, having all this in mind, it is possible to prevent the component of “Russian influence” in Afghanistan. And on the other side of the coin you can see another motive of “Russian influence” and “presence” in Afghanistan, namely, that Russia has entered into the Afghan game with the goal to defeat the Americans there. And thus, Russia will be able to “kill two birds with one stone”: on the one hand, to prevent a possible activation of the militants in the territory close to its borders, and on the other, to make of Afghanistan a possible landfill or a suitable “platform” for his own game, to confuse, there is card game USA. That is, to bring the actions of Americans in this country to a standstill, if not outright defeat.