Putin sends envoy on Afghanistan to India in special outreach
Russian President Vladimir Putin's point-man on Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, recently visited New Delhi in a major regional security outreach, the Times of India reported. Sources said Kabulov held discussions with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and foreign secretary S Jaishankar. His visit comes amid apparent divergences between India and Russia over the latter's stance on Afghanistan. India still hasn't made Kabulov's visit public.
India and Russia's interests on Afghanistan no longer converge
Last year, Kabulov said Russia considers ISIS a bigger security threat than the Taliban. He is seen as the main driver of Russia's outreach to Pakistan and the Taliban. He considers Pakistan a key player in the fight against terrorism and disagreed with US' plans to pressurize Islamabad over terror safe havens, calling it counter-productive. Kabulov's stance contradicts India's interests.
Reports: Kabulov explained why engagement with Taliban is important
Sources said several issues related to national security were discussed during Kabulov's meeting with Indian officials. It's believed that Kabulov highlighted how the US remains stranded in the Afghanistan quagmire even as the Taliban now controls nearly 40% of the territory in the country. Hence, he argued, talks with elements within the Taliban willing to give up violence could be fruitful, which India opposes.
Russia's balancing act with India and Pakistan
Kabulov also seems to tilt towards Islamabad on the issue of Afghanistan's security. Yet, Russia supported India in convincing China to drop its opposition to naming Pakistan-based terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad in the BRICS Summit declaration earlier this month. This indicates a careful balancing act by Russia when it comes to its long-time strategic partner India and new found interest Pakistan.