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Russia Seeks to Heighten Role in Afghanistan As U.S. Withdraws

AT Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The U.S. counterinsurgency campaign against the Taliban militant group in Afghanistan is at its end, with the U.S. military’s plans toward a total withdrawal as Russia has called on Kabul to help fill the gap.

Russia’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, in an interview with a Federal News Agency said that Russia could send troops to Afghanistan to fight terrorism if the country’s authorities ask for it.

But for this, Kabulov noted, first of all, it is necessary to wait for the results of the inter-Afghan dialogue and the formation of a coalition government that will represent the interests of all Afghans.

“As regards the fight against terrorism and military assistance to Afghanistan in this matter, let’s wait until there is a normal government in Kabul and we will discuss military assistance with it,” said the presidential envoy.

He also noted that Russia had already come up with a similar initiative, but it was not properly evaluated. “We at one time offered help that either the Americans or the Afghans provided with various conditions. We do not impose our good offices, but when we are politely asked, we are ready to do so. The terms of assistance will be determined by the Russian leadership,” Kabulov said.

He also assessed the cessation by the Taliban (banned in Russia) of the previously declared truce with government forces and the resumption of hostilities against official Kabul. “The Taliban movement did not take any obligations to end the war with government forces. The Taliban took a week of respite at the insistence of the Americans, and this truce was respected. There are no violations of the Doha agreement,” the diplomat emphasized.

However, the current president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, after signing the Doha agreement, which recorded the need to release five thousand Taliban prisoners, said that he personally had no obligations in this regard. “This naturally irritated the Taliban, and they answered this statement: “Well, great! In this case, we will not continue the temporary ceasefire and will consider ourselves free to fight with the government forces,” Kabulov explained and added that the ceasefire by the Taliban does not apply to Americans and foreign troops and does not in any way contradict the Doha agreement, assured Kabulov.

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