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Kabulov’s been on the scene for a while in Afghanistan, with a career dating back to the Soviet Union’s occupation of the country in the 1980s, when he was a low-ranking diplomat at the Soviet embassy and, by one account, eventually the top KGB agent in the country. On Saturday, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency ran an exclusive interview with the Russian diplomat that’s quite revealing with regard to where Russian policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan may be heading in 2016. military presence in Afghanistan disturbing Kabulov replies emphatically: “Of course … In Cuba, we have already experienced and we know the outcome.
More recently, he served as the Russian ambassador and, in his current capacity, has played an important role in shaping and communicating Russian policy toward both Afghanistan and Pakistan — particularly since the formal end of U. Kabulov’s comments in the interview additionally help rationalize and explain some of the actions Moscow took in 2016 and even earlier on. First, what’s most striking about the interview — at least to me — was Kabulov’s tendency to speak like an old Soviet diplomatic hand, concerned with the geopolitical balance of power in the Asian heartland. I think it is old fashioned.” Second, if you followed Afghanistan last year, you may recall reports that Russia was slowly and cautiously ramping up engagement with the Taliban.
Russia has moved on from seeing the Taliban as a potential source of support and incubation for separatist Chechen rebels within its own territory and more as a potential ally in stemming the flow of Afghan opium into its own territory.
He’s additionally at the center of Moscow’s ongoing recalibration toward the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, which has caused concern in Kabul, New Delhi, and Washington alike.
If Moscow’s outreach to the Taliban persists, the group stands to gain important international legitimacy that could undercut ongoing efforts to pursue negotiations toward a political solution based on peaceful reconciliation in Afghanistan.
(The Taliban see themselves as a government-in-exile.) Whatever the extent of Russia’s plans for the Taliban, Moscow hasn’t given up on the Ghani government just yet.
If anything, Kabulov’s remarks make it clear that the outreach is a combination of Moscow hedging its bets, striving to counter U. influence in Afghanistan and Central Asia, and, on a more practical level, stemming the outflow of drugs from Afghanistan.
For instance, Kabulov doesn’t directly address Russia’s plans for its relationship with Pakistan, which Moscow has long appreciated as a source of support for the Taliban and other groups threatening the writ of the Western-backed government in Kabul. While that move was ostensibly a practical one in the aftermath of Moscow’s international isolation following the annexation of Crimea, cooperation has expanded.