And largely for the benefit of Russia.
For Moscow, the chaotic US withdrawal, while recalling Russia’s humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 after its disastrous 10-year intervention, was a propaganda victory on a global scale.
From Latin America to Eastern Europe, Russia has fought for influence by insisting that the United States cannot be trusted. Nikolai Patrushev, Russia’s Security Council secretary, warned that America’s friends in Ukraine may soon be disappointed as well.
“The country is on the verge of collapse, and the White House at some point will not even remember its supporters in Kiev,” Patrushev said in an interview released Thursday.
The rapid fall of President Ashraf Ghani’s government was also a justification for Russia’s long-standing strategy of establishing a diplomatic relationship with the Taliban. As Western diplomats rushed to flee Kabul this week, Russian officials remained behind, with the Taliban ensuring the safety of the Russian embassy.
“They made a good impression on us,” Russian Ambassador to Kabul Dmitri Zhirnov said of the new Taliban guards at his embassy on Russian state television this week. “They are decent, well-armed guys. “
During Russia’s latest round of talks with the Taliban in Moscow in July, the group vowed that its military gains would not pose a threat to Russia or its interests. Russia has hosted the Taliban for several rounds of talks even though the group is officially classified as a Russian-banned terrorist organization, making any association with it a potential crime.
“It’s pragmatism – and cynicism and double-thinking,” said Arkady Dubnov, a Russian expert on Central Asia, describing the Russian government’s strategy to forge ties with the Taliban. “People are locked up in Russia for this kind of cooperation with a terrorist organization. “