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Russia Calls UN Meeting on Afghanistan “Failure”

VANCOUVER, CANADA – Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the UN meeting on Afghanistan in Doha was “unsuccessful.”

According to the TASS news agency, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson commented on the meeting in a press briefing yesterday, Tuesday, February 20.

Zakharova said, “no decision was made regarding the UN’s pre-announced plans to create a special envoy position for Afghanistan and a small contact group.” She added, “Unfortunately, such crucial matters were not adequately explained.”

Russian objections to the meeting come after the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres who hosted the meeting called it successful in his briefing to the media. Mr. Guterres said on Monday that participating countries had a consensus on the way forward including the appointment of a new special UN envoy for the country.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson emphasized that any initiative, whether creating a position or introducing a new format, without the support of the Taliban regime in Kabul and regional countries, is doomed to fail.      

The second meeting of special envoys to Afghanistan was hosted by the UN in Doha on February 18 and 19. The Taliban rejected the UN invitation to participate, denouncing the UN’s decision to invite several members of AFghanistan civil society. The group was also angered by the refusal of the UN Secretary General to meet with them.

Zakharova said that the Taliban delegation refrained from participating in the meeting due to the ‘humiliating conditions’ resulting from the fact that they were only allowed to participate in small meetings with representatives of Afghan civil society.

The Russian government that has appeared to be forcefully supporting the group also refused to join a meeting of special envoys with civil society members, reportedly at the behest of the Taliban.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson echoed the Taliban narrative that representatives of civil society in the meeting were selected by Western powers without the consent of the Taliban or even the United Nations Security Council.      

Other than Russia, Iran also refrained from joining the meeting of special envoys with civil society members.

Although diplomats from Tehran did not meet with civil society members, it has only been Moscow among more than 25 participating countries and organizations to criticize the UN meeting.

Despite the UN and the Western countries raising expectations, it seems any future progress by the UN would need a green light from the Taliban first and then Moscow and Beijing.