Going through the twisting history of Afghanistan, what kind of role will Russia play in the region after NATO troops have ended the combat mission? As the United States and the international community are scaling back their presence in Afghanistan and aid, Russia is eyeing to increase its role. This time no military forces are involved, no aerial blitzkrieg carried out and no Russian tanks lumbering in the country. This time, it is sending trainers for Afghan helicopter crews. It latest efforts consist of economic development, donations of vehicles and equipment to Afghan security forces and to rebuild Soviet’s infrastructure destroyed in the civil war, which was unleashed on the departure of the USSR from the country, besides humanitarian aid.
President Ashraf Ghani in his meeting with Russian special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Zamir Kabelov, urged that Kabul and Moscow should fight the threat of drug trafficking and terrorism jointly. Since tons of heroin and opium produced in Afghanistan move into Russia and Europe through the Central Asian republic ( sometimes back Soviet’s parts), the two countries need a joint mechanism to fight this evil as drug production and poppy cultivation has been causing insecurity in Afghanistan because the money earned from this sordid trade end up in Taliban’s pockets. Though during their toughest regime, drug production and poppy cultivation was reduced, however, after their ouster in 2001 after the United States arrived at this part of the world to punish them for sheltering al-Qaeda chief, bin Laden, whose men carried out a deadliest attack in the United States on 9/11, the Taliban took to opium cultivation.
Zamir Kabelov too stressed on joining hands against terror. Terrorism needs to be contained lest not only Afghanistan but also the entire Central Asia will be destabilized. Russia knows about this potential threat. Earlier on Tuesday, the Russian Interior Minister the Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev called on President Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential Palace. Presidential Palace said Kabul and Moscow agreed that terrorism was an international challenge that needs more cooperation and joint strategy. Given the role of Afghanistan’s neighbors, Russia, China, and India—all the three powerful economies and nuclear powers can play an effective role in the reconstruction and peace process of Kabul. A stable, democratic and sovereign Afghanistan is in interests of all the three. Relations of Afghanistan with Pakistan and Iran will improve more given that Moscow, Beijing, and New Delhi increase their security and reconstruction interests in this war-ravaged country.
What is appreciable is with the prospect of a decline in US aid and support Russia and China are reaching out Afghanistan in an attempt to improve economic ties and to secure borders in the region against the spread of religious fundamentalism. Although, the aid decline and troop drawdown have already showing signs of implications, however, in Kabul there is a general view that in case the situation on the ground further deteriorates, Afghanistan wouldn’t hesitate from rushing to seek help of its three big neighbors particularly to protect its national economy from a complete collapse.