By Najib Sharifi
Apolitical analyst and a member of Afghanistan Analysis and Awareness, a Kabul-based think tank.
A resurgent Russia is making new inroads into Afghanistan, not in the way the former USSR did, but by aligning itself with some of the very extremists whose leaders were involved in the defeat of the Soviet Union’s decade-long invasion of Afghanistan.
In December 2016, Moscow disclosed its contacts with the Taliban, the group that is intent on toppling the Afghan government. The Russian Foreign Ministry announced that it is sharing intelligence and cooperating with the Taliban to fight Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group’s (ISIL, also known as ISIS) militants in Afghanistan.
Moscow has repeatedly declared its concerns about ISIL militants, in many instances exaggerating their presence and power in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Afghan government officials have claimed Russia has been delivering weapons to the Taliban, allegations that have been rejected by Russian officials.