Statement by Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, during the VTC of UN Security Council members on the situation in Afghanistan
We thank Deputy SRSG Ingrid Hayden for her briefing. I would like to use this opportunity to thank former SRSG Tadamichi Yamamoto for all he has done in this position, and to wish all the best to the incoming SRSG Deborah Lyons.
We studied carefully the recent Secretary-General’s report on Afghanistan.
The political situation in the country still raises serious concern. The Russian Federation welcomed the signing of the agreement between the US and the Taliban in Doha on February 29 that was meant to become a step towards the comprehensive peace process. We hope it will be followed by an early launch of inclusive intra-Afghan peace negotiations. Unfortunately, the current situation is complicated by the absence of the unified government in Kabul and uncertainty over the release of prisoners. As we speak we hear news coming that a delegation of Taliban finally arrived in Kabul to engage in negotiations on prisoner release.
We reaffirm our principled position that the upcoming Afghan peace process should be inclusive. We call on all responsible political leaders to be guided exclusively by national interests and to focus efforts on promoting national reconciliation, which will lead to the end of the long years of war in the country and to the revival of a peaceful, united and independent state, free of terrorism and drug crime.
We understand that direct intra-Afghan talks might be difficult and protracted. We urge all parties to come up with a roadmap on the post-conflict settlement of Afghanistan. Russia is ready to engage in cooperation with China, US, and other international partners, including through the meetings of Troika plus Pakistan in order to facilitate for the Afghan parties an “acceptable-to-all agreement” that would establish a sustainable peace in the country.
Against this backdrop, the security situation in Afghanistan remains volatile. We strongly condemn recent barbaric terrorist attacks in Kabul which resulted in high number of victims and for which ISIL-Khorasan claimed responsibility. Continued presence of ISIL in Afghanistan is a serious concern. In spite of some success by the ANDSF, ISIL has been able to maintain their positions and influence in the country with 4000 fighters operating in the northern and eastern provinces. This represents a real threat to the security of both Afghanistan and its neighbors, including Central Asia. And this threat should not be underestimated.
We are also intensively monitoring developments regarding the drug situation in Afghanistan. Drug production and drug trafficking remain a serious threat for the country as well as for the region and globally. Drug production and trafficking are sources of significant financial support for terrorism. We are ready to fulfill our obligations by assisting collective efforts against this threat, including through the UNODC.
Needless to say, Afghanistan is passing through a critical phase in peace process and needs full support and attention of the international community in particular at the time of and despite the global COVID-19 pandemic situation. Regional cooperation and international assistance will be instrumental in helping to achieve lasting peace and stability in the country.