Russia To Begin Bilateral Trade With Afghanistan

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Agreement to provide grain and energy supplies 

The Afghanistan Government, the Taliban, has signed a provisional deal for Russia to supply petrol, diesel, gas and wheat to the country, according to the Afghani Acting Commerce and Industry Minister Haji Nooruddin Azizi.

The deal is the first known major international economic deal struck by Afghanistan since the Taliban returned to power over a year ago. Like Russia, Afghanistan has had its sovereign wealth confiscated by the United States and has been cut off from the SWIFT banking network. Afghanistan has a population of just under 40 million people, many of whom face starvation in the coming winter. The United States has refused to recognize the Taliban government and has dispersed the Afghani assets it holds to a Swiss based trust fund designed to compensate American victims of the 9-11 terror attacks.

Russia also does not officially recognize the Taliban’s government, but Moscow hosted leaders of the movement in the run-up to the fall of Kabul as discussions took place over administering the security of the country. An Afghan Taliban trade delegation also visited the SPIEF economic forum in St. Petersburg in June. Russia’s embassy is one of only a few to remain open in the Afghan capital, and is one of a handful of countries, along with China, providing security and aid to Afghani nationals.

The West refuses to deal with the Taliban and have said the group needs to change its course on human rights, particularly those of women, and prove it has cut ties with international militant groups in order to gain formal recognition.

The Afghani – Russia deal involves Russia supplying around 1 million tonnes of petrol, 1 million tonnes of diesel, 500,000 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and 2 million tonnes of wheat annually. The agreement could run for an unspecified trial period, after which both sides were expected to sign a longer-term deal if they were content with the arrangement. The deal was finalized after an Afghan technical team spent several weeks in discussions in Moscow.

Azizi declined to give details on pricing or payment methods but said Russia had agreed to a discount to global markets on goods that would be delivered to Afghanistan by road and rail. Payment is likely to have been secured via mining or other energy related concessions being granted to Russia.

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