Taliban 'receiving Russia and China's support' says Shaheen
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Both China and Russia have been at loggerheads with the West – particularly the UK and US – over recent weeks and months, primarily around territorial issues around the South China Sea and Crimea. The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan could effectively completely reset Asia’s geopolitical map and possibly hand both Beijing and Moscow an opportunity to project their power in the wake of the chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by the US. China has a long-standing relationship with the Taliban, having heavily invested in Afghanistan in the 1990s when it was under the group’s rule.
Earlier this week, the Taliban’s spokesman claimed China and Russia are supporting the new regime from the group in Afghanistan.
Suhail Shaheen was asked on Sky News which countries the Taliban were looking to forge ties with following their takeover of Afghanistan.
He stressed the organisation wishes for the “cooperation of all countries” in the rebuilding of Afghanistan before boasting the Taliban enjoyed “good relations” with Beijing and Moscow.
The spokesman went on to add: “We are getting political support from China and also Russia.”
Now a leading security intelligence expert has warned Beijing and Moscow will look to flex their muscles further throughout Asia and take advantage of the chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by President Joe Biden.
Barbara Kelemen, associate and the lead intelligence analyst for Asia at security intelligence firm Dragonfly (the new identity of the former Intelligence & Analysis practice of The Risk Advisory Group), told Express.co.uk: “China and Russia have both reached out to the Taliban.
“China has a long-standing relationship with the group and invested heavily in Afghanistan in the 1990s when it was under Taliban rule.
“We anticipate this strategy to continue, because China wants to secure its investments in countries such as Pakistan, so we are likely to see a rising influence from that side.
“Russia is also trying to guard its area of influence in Central Asia and wants to make sure there is no spill-over of instability into that country.”
When asked how damaging the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan had been, Ms Kelemen replied: “When we look at the statements criticising policy, it has to do with the orderly manner in which the withdrawal was supposed to take and that clearly didn’t happen.
“We are seeing reports of people who have got green cards or who are eligible to leave the country probably won’t be able to do so.
“We will see widespread influence from China and Russia, who are the two countries with a friendly relationship with the Taliban and have been in talks with the group.
“Geopolitically, we will see the US lose influence in that part of the world at the expense of China and Russia.
“There are opinions that the US commitment in Afghanistan is not what it was expected to be so it could have ramifications.”
But Ms Kelemen said it could be at least six months before the world starts to see any significant movement from China and Russia in relation to the Afghanistan crisis.
She believes this involvement could in fact come “indirectly” as history would show from China, while Russia will use channels through Central Asian countries to repeat this tactic.
The security intelligence expert concluded: “If they (China and Russia) get involved, it will take place on a longer-term scale beyond six months and likely to be indirectly – China has avoided entering directly over the past few decades.
“They will likely maintain this so any involvement will be negotiated through either private security companies or directly through the Taliban.
“Russia will use its channels through Central Asian countries to do the same.”
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