Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Mr.Vladimir Safronkov, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan

We are grateful to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Mr. Tadamichi Yamamoto, for his comprehensive analysis of the situation in Afghanistan. We listened with interest to the statement made by the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, Mr. Mahmoud Saikal. We agree with the assessments made in the report (S/2017/508) of the Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan. We support the personal efforts of Secretary-General Guterres with regard to ensuring a sustainable Afghan settlement. In that regard, we echo the profound and far-reaching statement by the representative of Kazakhstan.

Afghanistan needs to become an active participant in future regional and integrational processes. Afghanistan has always been and will remain a friend of Russia. In that regard, the recent series of terrorist attacks that recently swept the country have weighed heavily on us. We extend our sincere condolences to the Government and the people of Afghanistan for the victims of those appalling crimes. We express our solidarity with those from the diplomatic corps who died. We are seriously concerned about the growing internal political and military tension within the country. Afghanistan is seemingly unable to break the vicious cycle of violence, and the situation continues to grow worse, with low levels of economic growth and the increasing terrorist threat. This string of problems is a major burden for the people of Afghanistan, including its selfless armed forces.

In that vein, what is increasingly important with regard to stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan is the task of achieving national reconciliation. We support the corresponding efforts undertaken by Kabul in that respect. We proceed from the premise that the process must be guided and implemented by the Afghans themselves. We are ready to provide assistance in promoting that, including through flexibly approaching issues that concern potentially loosening the sanctions regime of the relevant Security Council committees. At the same time, we note the decreasing effectiveness of many of the international mechanisms for supporting national reconciliation in Afghanistan, which seem to involve too many actors. On the other hand, narrow formats clearly do not take into account the interests of many of the countries of the region, which also negatively affects the results of their work.

In that regard, we are convinced that the launch of the Moscow talks on Afghanistan at the beginning of the year is an inclusive and the most promising method for establishing direct and constructive dialogue on issues concerning national reconciliation. The refusal of certain States to participate in those talks for no specific reason has left us perplexed. Given that India and Pakistan have become full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and that Afghanistan and Iran have applied, the prospects for national reconciliation can only grow.

We must acknowledge that the main tasks facing the international military presence in the country over the past 15 years remain unrealized. In many cases, the situation has actually gotten worse. We are not looking to accuse anyone, as that is not our political practice. Let me make it clear to everyone that that is not our goal. The task of reaching a settlement in Afghanistan requires a consolidation of international and regional efforts. Only our collective joint efforts will allow us to unravel the complex tangle of problems and move the country towards stable development in an atmosphere of cooperation and good neighbourliness. That is the only way in which counter-terrorism efforts will yield the necessary benefits. In that regard, we support the arrangements reached between President Ahmadzai of Afghanistan and Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan at the Astana meeting.

However, instead of making progress on a unification agenda, some of our partners would appear to resort to baseless allegations and rhetoric, including against Russia. I would like to point out that many years ago Russia was one of the first countries to draw the attention of the international community and the Afghans to the spike in terror activity in the northern part of the country. Our country made a significant contribution to counter-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan, including in cooperation with the United States and NATO. We are referring to the transit of military cargo, supplying helicopters and the training of Afghan troops. We are very troubled by the intensification of the capabilities of Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham in Afghanistan. The ranks of that group are being filled. Its devastating potential is growing. The problem is dangerous and must not be ignored or glossed over.

We have received reports of flights of unidentified aircraft that have been observed providing assistance to Afghan militants. The scale and scope of those flights are expanding. They are already reaching the provinces of Sari Pul, Farah Kandahar, Herat and Nangarhar. The flights often end as soon as the Afghan authorities publish the relevant information. We need to keep the situation under close review and we need to clamp down on that type of cove activities. We deem the demand by Afghan members of Parliament to clarify the situation well grounded, and we expect the United Nations Mission to provide a comprehensive report on those events.  

Narcotics pose a serious threat to stability in Afghanistan and its neighbours, and to our friends and allies in Central Asia. We are troubled by data showing that drug production and poppy crops are once again expanding. The rise in income from drug trafficking is inevitably spurring terrorist activity. In that regard, we call for international efforts to be stepped up in combating Afghan drug trafficking. We see good potential for bolstering counter-narcotics cooperation between Afghanistan and the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

Once again we repeat that the complex problems in Afghanistan can be solved only on the basis of broad, sincere cooperation at international and regional levels. The task of harmonizing the approaches of external players is becoming more urgent. Addressing that task with a view to achieving sustainable national reconciliation in Afghanistan is the very purpose of the Moscow negotiations.