Russia to remove Taliban from ‘Terror’ list: State media

MOSCOW: Russia will remove the Taliban from a list of banned terrorist organisations, three years after they returned to power in Afghanistan, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency said Monday.

Moscow has for years fostered relations with the Taliban, holding multiple rounds of talks and boosting trade with Afghanistan despite international sanctions.

“Kazakhstan has recently taken the decision, which we are also going to take, to remove them from the list of terrorist organisations,” RIA Novosti quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying.

Kazakhstan removed the Taliban from its list of banned organisations at the end of 2023.

The move could further boost diplomacy between Russia and Afghanistan, but would fall short of an official recognition of the Taliban government and what it calls the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”

The Taliban seized power in 2021 from a US-backed government. They have enforced an extreme form of Islamic law that effectively bans women from public life.

Lavrov said Russia’s decision was about recognising the realities on the ground.

“They are the real power. We are not indifferent to Afghanistan. And above all our allies in Central Asia are not indifferent,” Lavrov said.

Russia also invited Taliban representatives to its flagship Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum, state media reported.

The event was once seen as the cornerstone of Russia’s economic relations with the West.

Russia has for years fostered ties with the Taliban.

The head of US forces in Afghanistan claimed in 2018 that Moscow was providing weapons to the group — accusations Moscow denied at the time.

The Taliban has been designated a terrorist organisation in Russia since 2003.

Moscow itself has a complicated history with Afghanistan with the Soviet Union having fought a decade-long war against guerilla mujahideen fighters in the 1980s to prop up a Kremlin-backed government.

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