Kabul/New Delhi: In the prevailing situation, with the fast-moving developments in Afghanistan and their likely long-term fallouts, relations between countries have been vacillating with no clarity on how they would evolve in the coming days and months.
Relations between Russia and China would also be at the centre of focus in this regard with the central Asian states being the focus of attention. In an article in Russian daily ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’, Vladimir Skosyrev mentions that the situation is much more complicated as far as Russia-China relations are concerned in the context of preventing the possible infiltration of militants into the former Soviet republics of central Asia.
Skosyrev mentions that in the West, there has been constant reference to the central Asian states as the “backyard of Russia”.
However, such terminology is not to the liking of Beijing as it smacks of colonialism. However, considering the region was part of the former Soviet Union, the Chinese have not been objecting to the terminology being used. It is due to this reason that China feels that Russia has a special responsibility as well.
However, as per the author, while the Chinese are quiet on the issue at this point, there is a possibility of the Chinese slowly objecting to the terminology usage in the future.
Skosyrev mentions that Pan Guang, Director of Research for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, believes that central Asian countries should be part of a “buffer zone” along the borders between Tajikistan and Afghanistan without any special linkages to any particular country in the region.
On this issue, in an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Vasily Kashin, senior researcher at the Higher School of Economics, noted that “Russia has always emphasised that it plays a major role in regional security whereas China has always expressed its willingness to cooperate”.
Kashin further mentions that since “China intends to cooperate, they have been given space in the SCO and participates in SCO activities”.
Kashin mentioned that China also provides military assistance to the countries of central Asia, although less than Russia. He mentioned that “perhaps, as a last resort, China will be ready to use force if the need arises, to control a distracted Taliban, but only in conjunction with the SCO and only if China itself leads the operation”.
Russia has been and will be cautious in playing its role in the region, not to be seen as an aggressor in anyway.
Meanwhile, Russian Ambassador to Kabul, Dmitry Zhirnov, claimed on the YouTube channel ‘Soloviev Live’ that the Taliban were using the help of the Russians to communicate with Panjshir.
According to the head of the Russian diplomatic mission in Kabul, representatives of the political office of the Taliban were at the embassy on August 21. As per the Ambassador, “They asked Russia to convey the following to the leaders and residents of Panjshir: So far the Taliban have not made any attempt to enter Panjshir by force, the group is counting on finding a peaceful way to resolve the situation, for example, through reaching a political agreement.”
This appears to be a hint from the Taliban on a likely offensive operation they might conduct in the coming days.