It was always to be expected that once they realised that the Americans under President Trump’s leadership were serious about pulling out of Afghanistan – in the teeth of vocal Pentagon opposition – the Russians would be forced back in to take some responsibility for events. And, since the appointment of a new and dynamic ambassador to Kabul in April, the signs are that Moscow is getting serious about this vast and wild country that borders former Soviet republics such as Tadzhikistan and Turkmenistan.
These fledgling dependencies in post-Soviet Central Asia still have some strategic significance for Russia. They are obvious targets for penetration by extreme Islamist groups. Keeping Iran happy by helping the mullahs accelerate their drive to strategic nuclear power is not enough as an insurance policy. President Putin’s man, Dmitrii Zhirnov, is now a figure to be watched as his initiatives pick up speed. All of a sudden the government in Kabul is worthy of Russian attention. When the Americans who conceived the Afghan régime finally close the door and say goodbye, the Russians could be left holding the baby.
Nezavisimaya gazeta could scarcely be more explicit about the decisive shift in policy from the Kremlin.
Москва меняет свое отношение к правительству Афганистана
Успех проекта «регионального консенсуса» усиливает позиции Кабула в диалоге с Кремлем