Russian ambassador: 'There is no alternative to the Taliban in Afghanistan'

Russian ambassador: 'There is no alternative to the Taliban in Afghanistan'
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Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan told Reuters in an interview on Friday that the Taliban was the “de-facto” authority in the country, adding that “there is no alternative to the Taliban in Afghanistan.”

Ambassador Dmitry Zhirnov, who spoke to the wire service over Zoom in Kabul, also said that anti-Taliban forces in the Panjshir Valley would not be able to prevail. 

"They have no military prospects. There are not many people there. As far as we know they have 7,000 armed people. And they already have problems with fuel. They tried to fly a helicopter but they have no petrol and no supplies," Zhirnov told Reuters.

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The Russian envoy said that Kabul’s atmosphere “can be described as one of cautious hope” and evoked an optimistic tone of what life might be like following the Taliban’s capture, a stark difference to the tone to the United States and other countries. International reporters also have described scenes of worry among many in Kabul over the return of Taliban rule.

"There was a bad regime which disappeared and people are hopeful. They say it can’t be worse so it should be better. But this is another test for the Taliban to pass. After they restore order, they should start improving the socio-economic situation," Zhirnov said.

Russia has sought to grow and maintain a relationship with the Taliban over the years despite the fact that the Taliban is included on Russia's list of terrorism organizations, The Associated Press reported

Though Russian officials have not recognized the insurgent group as the leaders of Afghanistan, Zhirnov and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have signaled optimism over the Taliban’s reestablished presence in the country.

Scenes from Kabul's airport indicates many Afghans are desperate to flee the Taliban, including footage of a toddler being hoisted over a wall. The child was later reunited with their father at the airport.