Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC meeting on the situation in Afghanistan
We thank the Martin Griffiths, head of the OCHA, for his assessment on the situation in Afghanistan. We listened attentively to Markus Potzel, Deputy Head of UNAMA, and Dr. Lucy Morgan Edwards, who worked in the country for many years in various areas and stayed there during the years of US and NATO intervention.
Tomorrow marks exactly one year since the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. On August 30, 2021, people around the world saw photos of an American Boeing leaving Kabul, with ordinary Afghans clinging to its wheels in panic. All of us remember very well that this was preceded by large-scale political changes in the country that marked the beginning of a new stage. After 20 years of bloody war, former President Ghani shamefully fled Kabul, followed by many other Afghan politicians. The fact that the Taliban Movement once again came to power in the country came as a complete surprise to everyone, including those who had recently loudly praised Afghan security forces, who received extensive training over the years, for their high level of combat effectiveness.
Today's meeting may be a good opportunity to discuss the results and consequences of this inglorious 20-year campaign in Afghanistan, which cost the lives of more than a thousand ordinary Afghans and American soldiers with hundreds of thousands of people maimed, on top of 2 trillion US dollars that could have been spent on good causes. However, we do not have any particular illusions when it comes to this. Over the past 12 months, we have all seen how Washington hypocritically tried to shift the responsibility for the failure of its 20-year war and the current deteriorating situation onto the new authorities. At the same time, as we remember, in an effort to present the United States in a favorable light, President George Biden announced that "all the tasks set in the country were achieved."
Let me remind you that the US came to Afghanistan with a special mission - to fight against terrorism. In reality, their arrival to the country only strengthened its status as a hotbed of terrorism and a center for the production and distribution of drugs. Along with the presence of al-Qaeda and its affiliated groups, ISIS came to Afghanistan and firmly strengthened its influence in the country, that was effectively controlled by the US and its Western allies. We have been talking about this since 2017, but our Western partners have only recently acknowledged it. Moreover, the whole time ISIS’s capacity has been constantly increasing, including with financial support from abroad and the inflow of foreign terrorist militants who have received combat experience in other crisis areas of the world.
We also saw unprecedented increase in drug production over the years. Literally before our eyes the country turned into a hotbed for terrorism and drugs, and as our Western colleagues argued, the long-term presence of the United States and NATO was aimed exactly at effectively fighting those crimes.
All our appeals to focus on the growing threat from ISIS in Afghanistan were met with the frantic attempts by our Western colleagues to belittle its scale or completely sweep this topic under the rug. At the same time, the United States had numerous opportunities, including material military and technical capabilities, as well as time to eliminate terrorists in Afghanistan. The foreign military contingents that were present in the country hypocritically continued to pretend that the drug problem did not exist at all, although at that time heroin from Afghanistan had already reached many Western European countries. Over the years, the questions repeatedly asked in the Council Chamber about unidentified helicopters transporting ISIS fighters and weapons for them to different regions in the country, including to the north, which was happening while we were told that the situation was fully under control of the coalition forces, have also remained unanswered.
On the contrary, during all these years our Western colleagues have been constantly telling us about the efforts to strengthen the combat capability of the Afghan National Security Forces, the effectiveness of their training and control of the security situation.
Against this background, the socio-economic situation in the country remained deplorable. By the way, in the Soviet years, more than 140 enterprises were built in the country, including an industrial complex. They have become the backbone of the economy and laid a solid foundation for the independent sustainable development of the country. In addition, there were new schools, student exchanges and training programs. How many enterprises have been built or restored during the 20 years of NATO's presence in the country? The answer is obvious: none.
On the contrary, billion-dollar investments ended up in the pockets of corrupt American puppets. As a result, the country became fully reliant on international aid without any prospect of independent development.
We should separately mention the issue of the protection of the civilian population. We would like to remind our Western colleagues, who have lately preferred to reduce any discussion on Afghanistan to the topic of human rights violations, of the irresponsible actions of the US and NATO military, who indiscriminately targeted ordinary Afghans on a regular basis. Not to mention night raids and extrajudicial killings of civilians, including women and children. Unfortunately, reports by various independent non-governmental organizations about these heinous war crimes with the goal to serve justice and hold the perpetrators accountable were never followed by investigations due to blatant blackmail by Washington. The US ruthlessly thwarted any relevant attempts by the ICC threatening the Court with sanctions. However, no one was surprised by such cynical actions. The US colleagues acted similarly with respect to the war crimes committed by the United States in Iraq.
While the US continued sponsoring the corrupt regime of A. Ghani, at the same time it carried out separate negotiations with the Taliban behind the back of the Afghans, which resulted in the signing of a deal on the withdrawal of troops from the country. As a result, the people of Afghanistan, whom, as our US colleagues repeatedly told us, “they defended,” were abandoned by the US to their fate, left face to face with devastation, poverty, terrorism, hunger and other challenges.
One of the most horrendous consequences of this military intervention is the large-scale humanitarian and economic crisis that broke out in the country. According to many experts, the current humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan could lead to more deaths than 20 years of war. However, instead of admitting their own mistakes, assisting in the reconstruction of the destroyed country and paying reparations, the US and its allies try to solve the Afghan problem using their usual methods. They simply, in politically correct terms, blocked Afghan national financial resources and cut off the banking system from SWIFT, putting poor Afghans on the brink of survival and forcing many of them to sell their organs and their children in order to somehow make ends meet.
Despite the appeals of UN humanitarian agencies, human rights organizations and the Afghans themselves, the US continues to illegally withhold the country's foreign assets under various pretexts of human rights violations and the need to pay bills for the September 11 attacks, that Afghan people have nothing to do with. Such irresponsible behavior by the Western coalition and attitude towards what is happening in Afghanistan is not surprising, given how the former NATO military mission, the International Security Assistance Force, which was later replaced by the Resolute Support training mission, reported to the Security Council as if it were a mere formality.
Against this background, it is hypocritical of our Western colleagues to want to continue to engage in dialogue with the de facto authorities in the language of ultimatums and using the sanctions "stick" and threatening to use other methods of pressure, including limiting opportunities for effective resolution of pressing issues of peace and stability with the participation of the regional parties. We also see attempts to manipulate humanitarian aid and assistance, demanding that the new Afghan authorities first normalize the internal political situation and put an end to their challenges. Loud statements about the importance of resolving the human rights issue as a precondition for everything else do not stand up to scrutiny. We would like to ask you, dear colleagues: is it not a violation of human rights that because of the situation you have created and because of your inaction, women and children are dying?
We have repeatedly stated that stability in Afghanistan is critical to peace and stability in the region and beyond. Russia has been and is consistently pursuing policy aimed at speedy political settlement and national reconciliation in the country. At the same time, we still proceed from the premise that the Afghans themselves should resolve these issues. For us, the restoration, development and prosperity of an independent Afghanistan, free from terrorist and drug threats, is extremely important. We pay special attention to the issue of political inclusion and respect for human rights, including women and girls. Our efforts are aimed at achieving all these goals both in bilateral contacts with the de facto authorities and other Afghans, and within the framework of the Moscow format, meetings of regional neighbors, as well as through the regional organizations of the CSTO and the SCO. We also provide active humanitarian assistance to the fraternal Afghan people.
We are well aware of today's new reality in Afghanistan. We would like to emphasize that we continue to proceed from the need for constructive engagement between the international community and the Taliban. We believe that such a dialogue will make it possible to achieve an effective solution to the problems in the field of political inclusion, the fight against terrorism and drugs, as well as ensure human rights, including for women and girls. However, we are not ready to put up with the attempts of our Western colleagues to simply turn the page of the history of Afghanistan, shifting all the blame on the Taliban and start it from scratch, as if these twenty years did not happen.
Right of reply:
Somewhere in the lengthy arguments of our US colleagues, one could hear a call for Russia and China to reach for their wallets and pay for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. They say that only the United States and its allies are paying for everything, while Russia and China are only shaking the air. The cynicism of such statements is simply amazing: we are called to chip in to restore the country, the economy of which was actually destroyed by twenty years of US and NATO occupation. This means that instead of admitting our mistakes and trying to correct them, we are now reproached for not wanting to pay other people's bills. This is an original proposal.
However, at some point we stopped being surprised by anything. No, gentlemen, our Western former partners, you need to pay for your mistakes. And to begin with, to return to the Afghan people the money stolen from them.
We have helped and will continue to help Afghanistan, and we recommend that you focus on compensating to the Afghans for the 20 years of senseless occupation that destroyed Afghanistan and put its people on the brink of survival. Not everything is measured in money. The lives of those killed while you tried to plant democracy in Afghanistan and crippled in the course of hostilities cannot be measured in money, nor can they buy the loyalty of the Afghan people, which the United States seems to have completely lost.