Russia is Looking to Engage the Taliban. Here’s Why.

Russia is Looking to Engage the Taliban. Here’s Why. By Samuel Ramani – Washington Post

In December, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Indian diplomats that Moscow supported diplomatic engagement with the Taliban.

Lavrov’s justification for this bold pronouncement? He argued that no Afghan peace settlement could proceed without the Taliban’s participation — and that dialogue with the Taliban would reduce the risk of terrorism diffusing from Afghanistan to Central Asia.

That’s just part of the story, though. My research on Russia’s Afghan strategy suggests that Moscow’s diplomatic engagement with the Taliban actually aims to challenge internationally accepted rules of engagement with the Islamic extremist organization.

Russian policymakers support engagement with Taliban factions that support a diplomatic settlement in Afghanistan, while eschewing factions that seek to destabilize the war-torn country. Moscow’s selective engagement strategy toward the Taliban contrasts markedly with Washington’s historical resistance to engagement with the Afghan militant group.

This suggests that Russia is seeking to build an international consensus around its approach — and bolster its status as a counterweight to U.S. hegemony…

Read on.

 

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