March 11, 2024 Special Dispatch No. 11189

In Meetings In Kabul, Russia And Afghanistan Agree To Forge 'Enhanced Security Cooperation' Between The Two Countries

March 11, 2024
Afghanistan, Russia | Special Dispatch No. 11189

At a recent a meeting held between Afghan Taliban's Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani and Russian Ambassador to Kabul Dmitry Zhirnov, it was decided that the two countries would establish an enhanced security cooperation in the coming months.

According to a statement issued by the Interior Ministry of Afghanistan on March 5, 2024, Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Taliban minister who is wanted by FBI, "emphasized the continuation of cooperation between Russia and Afghanistan, the development of bilateral relations and the strengthening of security relations between the two countries. The current situation in Afghanistan and the region was also discussed in the meeting by both sides."[1]

Dmitry Zhirnov, the Russian ambassador, had also held a meeting with the Afghan Taliban's Foreign Affairs Minister Amin Khan Muttaqi on February 14, 2024. It appears that at this meeting the Afghan Taliban urged Russia not to participate in the UN meeting on Afghanistan that was held in Doha on February 18-19, 2024, and which the Taliban also boycotted. According to a Russian media report, "the Russian side, at the request of the Afghan authorities, chose not to participate in the Doha event. This decision was made because the selection process for the event was deemed non-transparent and conducted without Kabul's knowledge."[2]

In late-December 2023, Zamir Kabulov, Russia's special envoy for Afghanistan, had also held a meeting with Sirajuddin Haqqani. According to an Afghan media report, Sirajuddin Haqqani "discussed security issues, the development of trade relations between the two countries, and Russia's support for Afghanistan in regional and international forums."[3]

Afghan Taliban's Minister of Interior Affairs, Sirajuddin Haqqani, met with the Russian Amabassador Dmitry Zhirnov, in Kabul

All the meetings between Russia and Afghanistan appear to be prioritizing bilateral security issues. Speaking about the December 2023 meeting, Afghan political analyst Kamran Aman said: "China and Russia are the two military and economic powers in Asia. When we have relations with these two countries, it is good to have partners in international arenas in terms of security, economy, and humanity."[4]

Regarding the March 5, 2024 meeting between Sirajuddin Haqqani and Dmitry Zhirnov, the Taliban did not release details. However, a multi-lingual website noted "significant discussion on security matters" and added: "This meeting comes in the wake of concerns voiced by Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Defense Minister, who recently pinpointed Afghanistan as a threat to the stability of Central Asia."[5] According to the report, Shoigu elaborated on these concerns in a briefing with Russia's high-ranking military officials, revealing a concerning 15 percent increase in the number of ISIS fighters in Afghanistan.[6]

Recently, Shoigu has repeatedly raised concern about the activities of extremist groups in Afghanistan. In April 2023, speaking at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Defense Ministers' Meeting in New Delhi, Shoigu stated: "[N]umerous radical extremist groups entrenched in the territory of Afghanistan pose the main threat, promoting their ideas and efforts in neighboring republics. To our mind, the topic of Afghanistan must be kept on the agenda of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization."[7]

In February 2024, the Russian defense minister described Afghanistan as "the biggest threat to Central Asia."[8] In a meeting with senior Russian military officials, Sergei Shoigu had stated: "The situation in the region is still challenging... The most significant threat persists from Afghanistan."[9] According to a report, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) – where Russia plays a key role – is expected to ratify a strategy aimed at bolstering the security framework along the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border within this calendar year.[10]


[1] (Afghanistan), March 6, 2024.

[2] (Russia), March 5, 2024.

[3] (Afghanistan), December 21, 2023.

[4] (Afghanistan), December 21, 2023.

[5] (UK), March 5, 2024.

[6] (UK), March 5, 2024.

[7] (Afghanistan), April 29, 2023.

[8] (UK), February 27, 2024.

[9] (UK), February 27, 2024.

[10] (UK), March 5, 2024.

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