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Putin: US withdrawal, Taliban rise to power changed regional situation

September 16, 2021
The US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban movement rise to power have fundamentally changed the regional situation, said Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday.
The US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban movement rise to power have fundamentally changed the regional situation, said Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday.

MOSCOW — The US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban movement rise to power have fundamentally changed the regional situation, said Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday.

This came in a speech by Putin during an online summit of the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which began its work in the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe, and was broadcast on Russian TV.

Putin also noted that all the organization member states supported the need for unity and coordination to face the emerging circumstances.

The Russian president also expressed the readiness of the organization member states to activate their defense and political capabilities in order to ensure security and strengthen the peace and stability process in the region.

CSTO Leaders will discuss the regional situation in Central Asia in light of the developments in Afghanistan and the possibility of increasing tension in the Tajik-Afghan border region.

Meanwhile, a Washington Institute report said that US President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is a catastrophic moral and strategic mistake that will define his legacy. It will also complicate his focus on great power competition with China and Russia.

“You can’t blame Russia for feeling a little smug about what is happening in Kabul,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, Putin’s foreign policy advisor and editor of influential Russia in Global Affairs. Indeed, Russian state-run media reactions show open glee.

“America no longer matters,” declared one Russian political scientist on Russian-state TV show 60 Minutes, adding that Russia should continue to “quietly strangle the United States.”

To be sure, the American withdrawal presents challenges for Russia. But also opportunities for Putin. More than fighting terrorism, he seeks to weaken the US-led liberal post-World War II security architecture in favor of his vision of a multipolar world.

The American withdrawal from Afghanistan weakens this structure for Putin, and leaves a vacuum he has little choice but to fill. Putin’s Russia has many problems, but it is not the Soviet Union that withdrew from Afghanistan in defeat in 1989, only to collapse and lose the Cold War soon after.

While the collapse of the USSR was a tragedy for Putin insofar as it meant the loss of power and status, he also extracted a number of key lessons. Unlike his Soviet predecessors, Putin has focused on pragmatism over ideology to pursue his goals. Since taking the reins of power over twenty years ago, he has consistently built contacts with everyone in the Middle East, both governments and major opposition movements to them.

He applied a similar template to Afghanistan, where Moscow for years played a double game. True, Putin supported the US-led Afghanistan invasion from the beginning, but his support was ultimately conditional. Moscow’s current attitude towards Afghanistan remains complex but ultimately highlights anti-American priorities. — Agencies


September 16, 2021
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