According to Reuters, the Taliban has signed a breakthrough deal with Russia for discounted oil, gas, and wheat as a result of weeks of discussion in Moscow.
After 20 years of occupation, the American military machine saunters out, and Russia bursts in: “The Taliban have signed a provisional deal with Russia to supply gasoline, diesel, gas, and wheat to Afghanistan,” said the acting Afghan minister of commerce and industry, Haji Nooruddin Azizi, to Reuters.
The significant agreement took weeks to prepare and negotiate, with Taliban leadership at its core in Moscow after acting Afghan minister of commerce and industry Haji Nooruddin Azizi led a delegation there last month.
Ironically, Moscow has yet to openly and fully recognise the Taliban administration since it came into the Afghan capital in August 2021, taking over amidst a chaotic US retreat from the airport. However, Russia has been one of a select few nations to leave its embassy in Kabul open.
“Azizi said the deal would involve Russia supplying around one million tonnes of gasoline, one million tonnes of diesel, 500,000 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and two million tonnes of wheat annually,” Reuters detailed of the agreement.
Subscribe to GreatGameIndia
The agreement is “provisional” in that it calls for an ambiguous trial period, with the possibility of a longer, permanent agreement if things go well.
The agreement calls for a “discount to global markets on goods that would be delivered to Afghanistan by road and rail,” according to Azizi.
Importantly, Moscow has set its sights on a pivot to Asia for desperately needed developing energy and commodities export markets under the backdrop of its war in neighbouring Ukraine and matching US and EU-led sanctions that are bent on imposing utter economic and political isolation on Russia:
For Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Asia-Pacific countries emerged as new centers of economic and technological growth” and it is necessary for Russia to follow the Asia-Pacific trend, generating a new domestic economic drive and a palpable alternative to Russia’s subordination to Europe and the United States in several fields. Simultaneously, Asia has become the cradle “of new centers of power” in the world, where Moscow seeks respects for its sovereignty, national values, and interests.
According to sources, China has also been working to gain a foothold in Afghanistan, which is extremely insecure and has experienced an economic catastrophe. For instance, in the early months following the US withdrawal, there were even indications and rumours that China’s PLA was considering occupying the vast, deserted Bagram Air Base.
Taliban with Reagan
This natural-resources deal is a great triumph for Minister Lavrov and should help Afghanistan in the long term. As for many Islamic countries, Afghani economics gets lost in outside narratives about religion or minerals. There are many other opportunities (like outdoor recreation) that the Taliban can exploit. Their fighters are probably the best mountain-hunting guides on earth.