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Russia to Remove Taliban From Terrorist List

Russia is set to remove the Taliban from its list of banned terrorist organizations, three years after the group regained power in Afghanistan. This move, reported by state-run RIA Novosti news agency, comes after years of Russia fostering relations with the Taliban, including holding multiple rounds of talks and boosting trade despite international sanctions.

Diplomatic Relations and Trade

Russia has consistently engaged with the Taliban, seeking to bolster diplomacy and economic ties. The removal from the terrorist list could further enhance these efforts, although it stops short of officially recognizing the Taliban government and its self-declared “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” Kazakhstan had already removed the Taliban from its list of banned organizations at the end of 2023, a move that Russia is now set to follow.

Foreign Policy Stance

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov emphasized the importance of acknowledging the current power dynamics in Afghanistan. He highlighted that the Taliban are the de facto rulers and stressed Russia’s and its Central Asian allies’ vested interests in Afghanistan’s stability.

Economic Forum Invitation

In a significant diplomatic gesture, Russia invited Taliban representatives to its flagship Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum. This event, once pivotal to Russia’s economic relations with the West, underscores the shifting focus of Russia’s international engagements.

Historical Context

The Taliban has been designated a terrorist organization in Russia since 2003. However, accusations have surfaced over the years, such as claims from the head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2018 that Moscow was providing weapons to the Taliban—accusations that Moscow denied. Russia’s involvement in Afghanistan dates back to the Soviet Union’s decade-long war in the 1980s against mujahideen fighters, aimed at supporting a Kremlin-backed government.

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