The Taliban wholly or partially controls over half of Afghanistan, claimed the Russian foreign minister this week, echoing other assessments.
Citing the level of influence the Taliban jihadists have over Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in his speech at the Uzbekistan conference on the war in Afghanistan, insisted that the terrorist group must engage in peace negotiations with Kabul, noting that peace and stability are only achievable through reconciliation between the two parties, Khaama Press (KP) reports.
The Russian official’s comments come soon after U.S. Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, once again asserted that Russia is providing military support, namely weapons, to the Taliban, an accusation that Moscow has repeatedly denied.
Despite Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer of a ceasefire and political recognition for the group, the Taliban has not directly responded to the proposal, saying they want to talk to the United States, instead.
The Taliban has long insisted on the complete withdrawal of foreign forces as a precondition for talks, but the United States has refused to abide.
Russia’s state-controlled TASS news agency reports that Lavrov called on the United States to cooperate with Russia to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table with Kabul, telling reporters covering the conference in Tashkent, Uzbekistan:
We are for Russia, the United States and the government of Afghanistan, acting with reliance on the potential of other actors capable of influencing the Afghan parties, to help the Afghan government and the Taliban as the leading opposition force to come to the negotiating table and start resolving their problems directly, without playing on disagreements among external actors.
In recent months, the Trump administration has been urging the Taliban to engage in peace negotiations with Kabul. However, the U.S. has yet to respond to Russia’s cooperation proposal.
Consistent with Lavrov’s assessment, the Long War Journal and the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a watchdog agency, have indicated that the Taliban controls or contests about 45 percent of Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s top source of funding, the production of opium and heroin, has reached historic proportions, allowing the terrorist group to continue waging an unrelenting war.
Breitbart News has determined that the Taliban’s manpower and influence stand at unprecedented levels.
Referring to the Russian foreign minister’s comments about the Taliban, KP reports:
He said the group continues to conduct military and acts of sabotage which have resulted in the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. He also insisted that achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan was only possible by launching a constructive dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban group.
Consistent with the position of the Trump administration, Lavrov noted that the warring parties could not resolve the Afghanistan conflict through military means.