While the Taliban and Navalny’s network are both banned in Russia, that’s where the similarities between them end with respect to how Moscow regards the two.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova slammed the West for its latest infowar campaign against her country which began at the start of this summer. TASS quoted her as saying the following:
“Approximately two months ago, practically a meme was launched, a thesis, that it was not important who was guilty of what but that Russia was acting in an unauthorized way because it maintained contacts with the Taliban.
You recall how both the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the special presidential envoy were mentioned in every way possible, and the allegedly secret photographs of contacts were being produced although they were all published on the ministry’s website.
There is a resolution of the UN Security Council, and it prescribes, it does not allow, it does not permit but prescribes to countries to interact and lend assistance to the political sides of Afghanistan’s peaceful political process.
And the most surprising thing, what will become a discovery for our liberal world, that resolution directly indicates the Taliban movement as such – as a political side of the intra-Afghan political process.”
These remarks were made in response to the foreign-funded self-described “opposition’s” emerging narrative that the Kremlin is behaving hypocritically by talking to the Taliban but not with NATO agent Navalny.
US-government-funded and Russian-designated foreign agent Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe (RL/RFE) pushed this warped interpretation of events in a piece on 17 July misleadingly titled “In Welcoming The Taliban, Kremlin Opens Door To A Host Of Criticisms, Diplomatic Uncertainties”. It draws attention to the so-called “opposition’s” claims, but as could be expected by a professional infowar outlet such as RL/RFE, it leaves out some crucial context in order to push its narrative agenda.
Mrs. Zakharova raised the relevant points that they’re deliberately omitting from the conversation, namely that a relevant UNSC Resolution prescribes the international community to interact with all legitimate stakeholders in the Afghan peace process. This includes the Taliban, which while still being designated by Russia as a terrorist group, is nevertheless pragmatically engaged with in the interests of peace and security. Moscow is therefore strictly abiding by international law and exercising its relevant responsibilities.
While the Taliban and Navalny’s network are both banned in Russia, that’s where the similarities between them end with respect to how Moscow regards the two. The first provocatively recognized Chechen terrorists’ self-proclaimed “independence” in 2003 and was subsequently banned due to the national security threat that this decision posed. The Taliban hasn’t since threatened Russia though and has actually actively engaged with it since taking over Afghanistan last month. Moscow also considers the group to be an anti-ISIS bulwark.
As for Navalny’s network, it objectively poses a much more pressing threat to Russian national security interests nowadays than the Taliban does, the latter of which never engaged in operations outside of Afghanistan or ever intended to do so despite its past political support for Chechen terrorists. This proxy front of Western interests aims to carry out a Color Revolution in the country, failing which it aspires to provoke the pretexts for further foreign sanctions against their country which might worsen the living standards of their “fellow” Russians.
Russia has no legal obligations to treat objectively designated foreign agents as equals to its legitimate government. There’s no pragmatic argument to engage with them unlike with the Taliban, which are Afghanistan’s de facto leaders, fight ISIS, and will control the central part of the planned Pakistan-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan (PAKAUFZ) railway for finally connecting Russia to the Indian Ocean like it’s aimed to do for centuries already. If Russia wants peace in Afghanistan, then it has to deal with the Taliban somehow, full stop.
If it wants peace at home, however, then it must root out foreign-financed regime change networks and ensure that they aren’t able to carry out a Color Revolution or provoke the pretext for further sanctions against “their” country. The timing of Russian liberals’ latest US-government-backed (RL/RFE) infowar attack coincides with next weekend’s legislative elections and is therefore aimed at influencing their outcome, even though the odds of that happening in any significant way as a result of this Hybrid War scheme are extremely low.
Be that as it may, Mrs. Zakharova felt that it was finally time to debunk that weaponized narrative, even if only for the sake of some naive observers abroad who might have been misled by it. To conclude, even though the Taliban and Navalny’s network are banned by Moscow, the former no longer poses any pressing national security threat to Russia and is actually emerging as a regional anti-terrorist asset who the UNSC approves of engaging with while the latter is an incipient regime change threat that Russia has no obligation to engage with.