Russia and the US traded accusations on their activities in Afghanistan. US generals reiterated their accusation that Russia was funding and arming the Taliban. Russia denied this and, in turn, accused US and NATO of condoning or facilitating the activities of “foreign fighters” (read ISIS), including those responsible for the recent attack on the Shi’a mosque in Herat. The MFA also alleged that the area under poppy cultivation had expanded rapidly this year, that export routes from Afghanistan had multiplied and that chemicals for processing narcotics were coming in from western European countries –all these posed security threats for Russia and Iran, but was being condoned by the US and NATO.
 
FM Lavrov commented that President Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy was unworkable, because it sought to achieve a settlement by force, and contradictory, since it seems to imply negotiating with the Taliban without preconditions. He contrasted the latter with criticism of Russia for its contacts with Taliban, even though it has made it clear that its contacts are related to practical issues of security of Russian citizens and offices in Afghanistan and, for the rest, to encourage dialogue between the Taliban and Afghan authorities, satisfying UN Security Council criteria – abjure terrorism, give up armed struggle and accept the Afghan constitution. 
 
In a press release on August 24, Russian MFA expressed the hope that US armed forces would not “infringe upon the national interests of the states in that region”.  India needs to remain engaged with Russian security and strategic policy makers to ensure that Russia’s West-obsessed actions in Afghanistan do not go against India’s core interests.  
 
It is curious that even while accusing the West of encouraging or condoning drug and terrorist flows from Afghanistan to Russia through the porous Afghan-Tajik border, Russia showed a relaxed attitude to joint military exercises conducted in July in Tajikistan by the US, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Pakistan, with the stated aim of strengthening capacity to repel the movement of terrorists and drug traffickers across the border. When the MFA spokesman was asked to comment, he responded that such exercises strengthen regional security and stability. 
 
 
 
August 30, 2017

 

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About the Author

Born in 1955, Ambassador Raghavan holds a B.Sc. (Honours) degree in Physics and a B.E. in Electronics & Communications Engineering. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1979. From 1979 to 2000, he had diplomatic assignments in USSR, Poland, United Kingdom, Vietnam and South Africa, interspersed with assignments in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi. From 2000 to 2004, he was Joint Secretary in the Indian Prime Minister's Office dealing with Foreign Affairs, Nuclear Energy, Space, Defence and National Security. Thereafter, he was Ambassador of India to Czech Republic (2004 - 2007) and to Ireland (2007 - 2011).

He was Chief Coordinator of the BRICS Summit in New Delhi (March 2012) and Special Envoy of the Government of India to Sudan and South Sudan (2012-13). Ambassador Raghavan conceptualized and piloted the creation of the Development Partnership Administration (DPA) in MEA, which implements and monitors India’s economic partnership programs in developing countries, with an annual budget of $1-1.5 billion. He headed DPA in 2012-13. From March 2013 to January 2014, he oversaw the functioning of the Administration, Security, Information Technology and other related Divisions of MEA. Since October 2013, he was also Secretary [Economic Relations] in MEA, steering India’s bilateral and multilateral external economic engagement. Ambassador Raghavan retired from the Indian Foreign Service in January 2016, after serving from 2014 as Ambassador of India to Russia. Since September 2016, he is Convenor of the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of India.

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