And largely in favor of Russia.
For Moscow, the chaotic withdrawal of the Americans, though reminiscent of Russia’s humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 after its disastrous 10-year intervention, was a propaganda victory on a global scale.
From Latin America to Eastern Europe, Russia has fought for influence by insisting that the United States cannot be trusted. Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the Russian Security Council, warned that America’s friends in Ukraine could soon be disappointed too.
“The country is heading for collapse, and at some point the White House will not even remember its supporters in Kiev,” Patrushev said in an interview published Thursday.
The rapid fall of President Ashraf Ghani’s government also reaffirmed Russia’s long-standing strategy to build diplomatic relations with the Taliban. While Western diplomats tried to flee Kabul this week, Russian officials remained seated, while the Taliban ensured the security of the Russian embassy.
“They made a good impression on us,” Russian ambassador to Kabul, Dmitri Zhirnov, told Russian state television this week about the new Taliban guards at his embassy. “They are decent guys, well armed.”
During Russia’s most recent round of talks with the Taliban in Moscow in July, the group pledged that its military gains would pose no threat to Russia or its interests. Russia has hosted the Taliban for several rounds of talks, even though the group is officially classified as a banned terrorist organization with Russia, making any association with it a potential crime.
“It’s pragmatism — and cynicism and doublethink,” said Arkady Dubnov, a Russian expert on Central Asia who describes the Russian government’s strategy for building ties with the Taliban. “In Russia, people are locked up for this kind of collaboration with a terrorist organization.”