Home Neighbours Afghanistan Russia Invites Taliban To St. Petersburg Economic Forum

Russia Invites Taliban To St. Petersburg Economic Forum


Russia has invited Afghanistan’s Taliban to participate in its largest annual economic forum, signalling a potential shift in Moscow’s stance towards the Islamist movement, a senior Russian diplomat announced on Monday.

Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, following the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces after a 20-year presence, Russia has gradually been establishing relations with the group. Despite this, the Taliban remains officially banned in Russia.

Zamir Kabulov, director of the Second Asia Department at the Russian Foreign Ministry, revealed to state news agency TASS that the Russian foreign and justice ministries have reported to President Vladimir Putin regarding the possibility of lifting the ban on the Taliban.

Although some issues need resolution, Kabulov confirmed that the Taliban has been invited to attend the St Petersburg International Economic Forum from June 5-8.

Kabulov noted that Afghan leaders have traditionally shown interest in purchasing Russian oil products. The St Petersburg forum, which used to attract Western CEOs and investment bankers, has seen a significant shift in its participants due to the Ukraine conflict.

This conflict has led to the most severe crisis in Russia’s relations with the West since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Western investors have been replaced by businesses from China, India, Africa, and the Middle East.

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The Taliban, which means “students” in Pashto, originated in 1994 around Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. The group was one of several factions vying for control of the country following the Soviet Union’s withdrawal and the subsequent collapse of the Afghan government.

Initially composed of “mujahideen” fighters who had repelled Soviet forces in the 1980s with U.S. support, the Taliban gained prominence and eventually seized power.

In 2003, Russia officially designated the Taliban as a terrorist organisation, although it maintained periodic informal contacts with the group.

The recent invitation to the economic forum marks a significant development in the relationship between Russia and the Taliban.

With Inputs From Reuters