The Improvement Of Russian-Taliban Ties Opens Up New Opportunities For India

Russia is poised to strategically partner with the Taliban upon the impending removal of its domestic terrorist designation, which will in turn revolutionize bilateral relations with Afghanistan. Readers can learn more about each complementary aspect of this policy here and here. The present piece presupposes at least passing knowledge of what Russia aims to achieve and why, particularly the interconnected security and economic drivers behind these latest developments.

In brief, Russia envisages building up the Taliban’s capabilities so that they then more adequately contain and hopefully defeat those ISIS-K terrorists that have established themselves in Afghanistan. Once the security situation is stabilized, transnational connective infrastructure projects from Russia to South Asia via Afghanistan can then finally begin to take shape. These include a gas pipeline, an overland oil export route facilitated by a planned Afghan hub, and a railway, the latter two of which can go hand-in-hand.

These ambitious goals are expected to accelerate multipolarity processes upon their completion through the fulfillment of Russia’s related Ummah Pivot and Greater Eurasian Partnership concepts, the last two pieces of which are Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. Comprehensively expanding strategic ties with Afghanistan will in turn enable the symmetrical expansion of those with Pakistan if Islamabad has the political will, which remains to be seen though considering the expansion of US influence there.

The way in which Russian-Pakistani relations evolve might also inadvertently stoke suspicions in India if they move too fast, some of whose experts and policymakers fear that Russia is increasingly beginning to fall under Chinese influence, which readers can learn more about here and here. The tangible consequences of exacerbating this perception could abruptly disrupt multipolarity processes if they empower India’s pro-US faction in the event that newly troubled ties with the US improve.

The most effective way to preemptively counteract this scenario is for Russia to pioneer an Afghan development quartet between those two, India, Iran, and Uzbekistan aimed at fully incorporating that war-torn country into the North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC). This would build upon November 2022’s Russian-Indian-Iranian Troika on Afghanistan in the new conditions of Moscow recognizing the Taliban as that country’s official leaders and Russia turning Uzbekistan into a regional logistics hub.



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