Photo: Mahdi Marizad / FARS

Russia Considers Delisting Taliban as a Terrorist Organization

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – The Russian Federation’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that it is considering the removal of the Taliban group from its list of designated terrorist organizations.

As reported by the Russian News Agency, TASS, on Monday, April 1, the ministry, along with the country’s Ministry of Justice and other specialized agencies, is reviewing the status of the Taliban.

“The final decision will be made by the country’s top political leadership,” the ministry told the news agency.

The Russian Federation designated the Taliban as a terrorist organization in 2003, after the group endorsed Chechnya’s bid for independence and attempted to sell 500 heavy weapons to Chechen rebels via Saudi charity, al-Haramain.

In the wake of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in 2021, Russia, along with a few other regional countries, maintained their diplomatic ties with the Taliban. They kept their embassies open in Kabul and allowed Taliban diplomats to take over the Afghan embassies in their respective capitals.

China, another major regional power, is still leading the way in treating the unrecognized regime in Kabul as a conventional state authority. Earlier in January, the Chinese President Shi Jinping officially received the Taliban ambassador in Beijing, marking a watershed moment in the Taliban’s relationship with the outside world.

While Russia has not formally recognized the Taliban government, it has engaged in discussions with the regime’s authorities and hosted numerous meetings concerning Afghanistan, with the participation of Taliban members.

Earlier, the Russian special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, told the TASS news agency that they had extended an invitation to the Taliban to participate in the Russian-Islamic World Kazan Forum, scheduled to take place in Russia’s Kazan city from May 14th to 19th this year.

At the same time, much like other regional stakeholders, Moscow also expressed worry about the potential threats of terrorism emanating from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, particularly concerning the insurgence of ISIS-affiliated (IS-KP) groups based in Afghanistan.

These concerns were exacerbated by the recent deadly terrorist attack on Russian soil perpetrated by IS-KP, resulting in the deaths of over 130 people.

Last February, the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, expressed concern about the security situation in Central Asian countries, saying that it remains complicated due to threats emanating from Afghanistan. “Their main goal is to spread radical ideas and carry out sabotage activities along the CSTO’s southern borders,” he emphasized.

Similar remarks were made by the Russian Defense Minister last year during a meeting of defense ministers from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in New Delhi. He said that the existence of terrorist groups in Afghanistan are the main threat to neighboring countries, especially Central Asia.

He added that the likelihood of infiltration by various international terrorist organizations such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement is on the rise.

Meanwhile, Russia and Central Asian countries are also expressing concerns about the increased drug trafficking from Afghanistan in recent years. “We have a predicted figure of a 20% rise in the production of drugs and their subsequent traffic across the Central Asian countries,” the Russian Defence Minister said.