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Russia will keep funding Afghanistan on its own through the United Nations food agency, Kremlin officials confirmed over the weekend as they hosted Taliban representatives for talks on regional threats, the Associated Press reported.
The announcement came as Moscow hosted a summit in the Russian city of Kazan on Friday that included representatives from China, India, and a number of Central Asian countries.
During the talks, Russian officials blasted Western nations for “complete failure” in Afghanistan, saying they should “bear the primary burden of rebuilding the country.” They added that Moscow will keep aiding the war-torn nation independently and through the World Food Programme.
Russia has a long tangled history in Afghanistan. It invaded the country in 1979 and fought there until its withdrawal in 1989. It continued to prop up a pro-Soviet government until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. At that time, civil war broke out in the country until the Taliban took over in 1996, before being driven out of power in 2001.
Now, Afghanistan has been under the control of the Taliban again since 2021, when the Islamist group took over following the withdrawal of US-led foreign troops from the country.
Since then, the armed group has imposed harsh rules based on their strict interpretation of Islamic law, including tough restrictions on women’s employment and education.
No country has recognized the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate rulers and many of the group’s leaders are under sanctions.
Russian representatives have previously noted that international recognition of the Taliban will depend on the inclusiveness of their government and their human rights record.
Analysts said that Friday’s meeting came about because Moscow is seeking to maintain its influence in Central Asia, even as it is fighting a war in Ukraine and losing its power over the region.
Despite designating the Taliban as a terror organization in 2003, Russia has actively sought contact with the group for years.
Since 2017, Moscow has hosted talks involving the Taliban, Afghan factions, China, Pakistan, Iran, India, and former Soviet Central Asian nations.