Russia confirms political contact with Afghan Taliban

Russia confirms political contact with Afghan Taliban

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russia is not providing military or financial assistance to the outlawed Taliban terrorist group, such claims are irresponsible and groundless, Zamir Kabulov, the Russian presidential envoy to  Afghanistan, told Sputnik.

"We consider this claim irresponsible. We have repeatedly stated that we provided neither military nor financial aid to the Taliban movement," Kabulov, who is also the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Second Asian Department, said.

He noted that Afghanistan’s fight against the Taliban is in stalemate and called for launching a national dialogue. "It is becoming more and more evident that there is a stalemate in Kabul’s struggle against the Taliban, in which neither side us able to shift the situation to its advantage. In these conditions, it is necessary to make the most active efforts to search for ways to launch the intra-Afghan dialogue."

One can get an impression that "the US anti-Russian rhetoric as well as groundless accusations regarding Russia allegedly supporting the Afghan armed opposition result from the need to switch the attention of the international community from the numerous errors made during the years-long presence of the US and NATO military forces in  Afghanistan, as well as the steady degradation of the situation in this country," Kabulov said.

Several US officials accused Russia of supporting the Taliban. In the most recent such claim, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last month, when asked a question about  Russia allegedly providing weapons to the Taliban, that this is a violation of international norms.

 However, Director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart said in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier that there is no evidence Russia had transferred weapons or money to the Taliban in  Afghanistan.

May 27, 2016 photo, members of a breakaway faction of the Taliban fighters walk during a gathering, in Shindand district of Herat province, AfghanistanAfghanistan" class="" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: middle; outline-style: none; width: auto; display: block; max-width: 100%; height: auto !important;">
© AP 
Moscow denounced the claim, calling it utterly false. The Kremlin said that these accusations are made to cover up US failures in  Afghanistan and noted that it maintains contact with the terrorist group only to promote peace talks.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow is only working with the Taliban in order to assist the implementation of a UN Security Council decision requested by the Afghan government that would allow the group to take a role in the political process. Lavrov also called accusations from the United States that it is supplying the Taliban with weapons baseless and unprofessional.