According to the Kremlin, Russian foreign policy in response to developments in Afghanistan from the preceding decades to the present day under the Taliban regime must be analysed through the lens of geopolitical dynamics. The departure of US soldiers from Afghanistan, which has undermined Ashraf Ghani’s control and empowered the Taliban across the war-torn nation, is considered a unique opportunity by Moscow.
Russia’s current policy in Afghanistan is to seek to fill the vacuum produced by the United States’ exit. Unlike China, which has endeavoured to infiltrate Afghanistan through economic mechanisms and infrastructure investment, Russia strives to enhance its presence and influence in Afghanistan in the post-US period largely through political security measures.
These measures, including dialogue with the Taliban, special intelligence and political links, and possibly military backing, have been high on Moscow’s foreign policy agenda in recent months. Russia has designated the Taliban as a terrorist organisation since 2003, but it has been associated with the group, and the extent of its assistance is unknown.
Russia has progressively increased its influence in Central Asia. The withdrawal of the US troops and NATO has encouraged Russia to increase its military and security presence in Afghanistan.
Insecurity, religious extremism, and drug trafficking are more directly tied to Moscow’s engagement in the Afghan peace process and participation in regional forums.
Russia and Central Asian states continue to be anxious about their own security. They want to make sure that, under the US departure, Afghanistan’s political upheaval does not spill beyond its boundaries.
Russia is delighted with the collapse of US and NATO military bases in Afghanistan, but it is apprehensive about the ramifications of the Americans’ exit and whether their military presence and influence would be replaced by US secret intelligence. Russia reports that 2,000 US personnel are still stationed in Afghanistan in all forms and sizes.
To address these concerns, the Kremlin is aiming to improve the process that would lead to the development of a coherent state in Afghanistan that would fit Russia’s interests: An Afghan A government capable of combatting terrorism and extremism, mainly in the country’s north, which borders Russia’s southern borders, as well as preserving Russia’s economic interests, particularly in the energy sector,
As a rule, this government could not be Ashraf Ghani’s, which acted as a puppet and in the United States’ best interests.
Russia has never veiled its dislike of Ashraf Ghani’s administration. “Unfortunately, we cannot say that the incumbent president of Afghanistan has been able to develop balanced ties with foreign partners and, in particular, with his regional counterparts throughout his tenure,” Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Alexander Mantitsky, remarked in 2019.
“This also harmed Russia-Afghanistan ties and even its balance and progress might be noted as a negative sign,” Mantitsky noted.
The first reliable source to confirm Ghani’s flight from Afghanistan was the Russian embassy. According to RIA Novosti, Ashraf Ghani wanted to sneak substantial quantities of money out of the country, according to Yekita Ishenko, a spokesperson for the Russian embassy in Kabul.
Yekita alleged that Ghani transported four trucks’ worth of cash out of the country and tried to take half of it by helicopter, but there was insufficient space. The Russian president’s representative for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, also said that Ashraf Ghani ought to be punished, summoned, and brought before an Afghan court for fleeing the country.