Contacts with Taliban needed to resolve conflict in Afghanistan
Today, US President Barack Obama, addressing his last speech on national security issues and methods of combating terrorism, said about the futility of the US anti-terrorist operations in Afghanistan, where there are about 10 thousand US soldiers and officers. "War has been a part of life in Afghanistan for over 30 years. And the United States cannot eliminate the Taliban or end violence in that country," the US leader said. A few days before this statement the the Resolute Support and US Forces-Afghanistan commander, Gen. John Nicholson expressed his opinion that legitimacy to the Taliban has been lent by...Russia.
It was his reaction to the reports that the Taliban are fighting against ISIS terrorists in Afghanistan, which Russia is fighting in Syria, therefore, Moscow and the Taliban have a common interest. According to Nicholson, "this public legitimacy that Russia lends to the Taliban is not based on fact, but is used as a way to essentially undermine the Afghan government and the NATO efforts and bolster the belligerents. So, it's not helpful".
The Russian Foreign Ministry, in turn, harshly reacted to the statement of the US commander: "Russia does not conduct any negotiations with the Taliban movement and does not provide them with any support. At the same time we believe that a military solution to the Afghan conflict does not exist, and the achievement of peace in the country is possible only through negotiations, which is impossible without contact with the Taliban movement, which is one of the participants of the political process in Afghanistan, just in case Gen. Nicholson is unaware of this."
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Nicholson's second quote was about "Moscow’s alleged reluctance to help Kabul maintain Russian helicopters that are past their lifespan", as if Afghanistan asked Russia for help but it was not provided by Russia. This statement is simply not serious, because just two weeks ago Moscow and Kabul reached an agreement on the Russian military-technical assistance to Afghanistan, which covers the maintenance and repairs of Russian or Soviet military hardware. Nicholson admitted that US sanctions for Crimea and Ukraine are an obstacle to Russia providing military-technical assistance to Afghanistan but for some reason he did not mention that Washington banned Kabul from using foreign donor aid that it receives to develop its national armed forces for the purchase of Russian aircraft, their repairs and maintenance in Russia.
According to Zakharova, US advisers are chaotically trying to find other opportunities for technical support of Russian- or Soviet-made helicopters in Afghanistan, ignoring the fact that quality maintenance and repairs of this sophisticated hardware can only be done by its producer, Russia, which is still ready to cooperate both with Kabul and Washington on this issue.
"The commander of the foreign troop contingent in Afghanistan is bound to know this by virtue of his position. So we can make another conclusion – this is deliberate distortion of facts to mislead the Afghan, US and world public," the Russian Foreign Ministry believes.