The Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia) have real power in Afghanistan, even though hotbeds of tensions still remain there, and Russia maintains communication with it, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said at his annual news conference devoted to reviewing Russia’s main foreign policy achievements in 2023, TASS reported on January 18.

“There is a de facto government in Afghanistan, and it has the situation in control.  True, some hotbeds of tensions, protest do remain there, but the Taliban have real power.  And our embassy never stopped operations in Kabul," the top Russian diplomat assured reporters.

"And we maintain regular communication with the Taliban, including on issues that need to be solved for them to become a fully recognized government," Lavrov added.

Among those issues, the Russian foreign minister mentioned “the fulfillment of their own promises, first and foremost, the main being the establishment of an inclusive government, which would include not only ethnic Pashtuns, not only other ethnic groups, but feature political inclusivity, as well."

"Because there are Pashtuns, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Hazaras, but, politically, they are all Taliban. […] We actively recommend that the Taliban invite other political forces into the governing structure," the minister said.

He noted that there is still political opposition in Afghanistan, “the former President Kharzai and the former Chief Executive Abdullah still live there.”

In addition, Lavrov noted, there is one more issue to be resolved.

“The second issue that, of course, must be resolved - there is the National Resistance Front in the north, and bridges must be built with them somehow, as well.  So, this process is not easy. And it has never been easy for anyone in Afghanistan," the minister noted.

The Russian foreign minister also noted that the Kazakhstan’s decision to remove the Taliban movement from the list of outlawed organizations does not mean diplomatic recognition.

“Kazakhstan has stated it specifically that the decision to withdraw the Taliban from terrorist lists does not mean a diplomatic recognition.  It’s all relative; even the UN Security Council has an exception regarding the representatives of the Taliban, included on the terrorist lists, which says that contacts with these people dealing with peace talks are allowed.  Therefore I would rather not delve too deep into this issue.  The most important thing is the reality on the ground, and the reality is such that the Taliban currently controls the core operation of Afghanistan," the top Russia diplomat added.