The American military machine saunters out after a 20-year occupation, and Russia darts in: "The Taliban have signed a provisional deal with Russia to supply gasoline, diesel, gas and wheat to Afghanistan, Acting Afghan Commerce and Industry Minister Haji Nooruddin Azizi told Reuters."
The major deal was weeks in the making and negotiating, centered in Moscow with Taliban leadership, after Acting Afghan Commerce and Industry Minister Haji Nooruddin Azizi led a delegation there last month.
Ironically, Moscow has yet to formally and fully recognize the Taliban government since it took power when it swept into the Afghan capital in August 2021 - amid a chaotic US evacuation from the airport - but Russia has been among a handful of countries to leave its embassy open in Kabul.
"Azizi said the deal would involve Russia supplying around one million tonnes of gasoline, one million tonnes of diesel, 500,000 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and two million tonnes of wheat annually," Reuters detailed of the agreement.
The deal is "provisional" in that it stipulates an unspecified trial period, which if it goes well is to lead to the signing of a longer term, permanent deal.
Azizi described that the agreement involves a "discount to global markets on goods that would be delivered to Afghanistan by road and rail."
Crucially, amid the backdrop of its war in neighboring Ukraine and corresponding US and EU-led sanctions which are bent on imposing total economic and political isolation on Russia, Moscow has set its sights on a pivot to Asia for badly needed emerging energy and commodities export markets:
For Russian President Vladimir Putin, "Asia-Pacific countries emerged as new centers of economic and technological growth" and it is necessary for Russia to follow the Asia-Pacific trend, generating a new domestic economic drive and a palpable alternative to Russia’s subordination to Europe and the United States in several fields. Simultaneously, Asia has become the cradle "of new centers of power" in the world, where Moscow seeks respects for its sovereignty, national values, and interests.
China too, has reportedly been attempting to make inroads into highly unstable and economically collapsed Afghanistan - but these reports have been focused on a military angle. For example, in the opening months after the US exit, there were even signs and speculation that China's PLA was looking to take over the sprawling abandoned Bagram Air Base.
Thu, 09/29/2022 - 04:15