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Russia removes the Taliban from the terrorist list. What’s happening in Moscow

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More than three and a half years after their return to power in Afghanistan, the Taliban will be removed from the Russian government’s “list of terrorist organizations.” This was announced by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “Kazakhstan has recently taken a decision, and we will also take it, to remove (the Taliban) from the list of terrorist organizations,” he told RIA Novosti news agency. The Taliban movement has been on Russia’s list of terrorist organizations since 2003, but Moscow has been maintaining relations with it for several years and has already received envoys from it on its territory on several occasions.

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Since their return to power, the Taliban have received somewhat conciliatory attention from Moscow in exchange for promises not to allow more extremist organizations to establish a presence in the region. The head of the Russian security services, Alexander Bortnikov, also recently said that he was sure that “the Taliban will be able to put their house in order, if external actors do not prevent this.” Russian authorities are particularly concerned about the security of the former Soviet republics in Central Asia bordering Afghanistan and the emergence of new jihadist groups inspired by or supported by the Taliban. The Kremlin also wants to avoid the influx of refugees and the explosion of the opium and heroin drug trade. Russia also invited representatives of the Taliban movement to participate in the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, which is the main meeting in the Russian economic and business world scheduled to be held in early June. In the past, the West accused Russia of supporting the Taliban and trying to destabilize the Afghan administration, which was loyal to the United States at the time. In 2018, the US military commander in Afghanistan accused Moscow of supplying the Taliban with weapons, which was strongly denied.

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