Indian PM Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin Photograph:( WION Web Team )
Both India and Russia have reasons to be wary of Taliban rise in Afghanistan
In an important development, India and Russia have agreed to form a "permanent bilateral channel" for consultations on Afghanistan. The announcement of bilateral channel has been the most visible practical cooperation between India & any of its allies on Afghanistan in the aftermath of fall of Kabul to Taliban since 15th August.
The development was announced hours after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi & Russian President Vladimir Putin held 45-minute telephonic conversation on Tuesday.
In a tweet, PM said, "Had a detailed and useful exchange of views with my friend President Putin on recent developments in Afghanistan..."
Had a detailed and useful exchange of views with my friend President Putin on recent developments in Afghanistan. We also discussed issues on the bilateral agenda, including India-Russia cooperation against COVID-19. We agreed to continue close consultations on important issues.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 24, 2021
Both sides have had regular exchanges on Afghanistan, including during External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar's Russia visit & Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov's India visit earlier this year.
During Modi-Putin talks, both sides agreed to cooperate on counter-terror & drug threat "emanating from the territory of Afghanistan", Russian readout of talks said.
They also "noted the importance of coordinated efforts" which would "contribute to the establishment of peace and stability in this country, ensuring security in the region as a whole".
The situation in Afghanistan is seen as security challenge to both India & Russia. For India, Afghanistan could become a safe haven for Pakistan-based terror groups, and for Russia, a spillover of the crisis can impact friendly central Asian countries like Uzbekistan, Tajikistan.
Important to remember, India's Deputy National Security Advisor (NSA) Pankaj Saran met Russian NSA Nikolai Patrushev last week in Moscow & discussed Afghanistan. Last week was the first week since the fall of Kabul, and Taliban emerging as dominant force in Afghanistan.
During the talks both sides also had conversation on trade, Covid crisis, manufacture of Russian Vaccines in India. Next few months will see increased India, Russia engagement, given India will host BRICS summit in September as the chair of the grouping, Russian President Vladimir Putin's much-awaited India visit for annual India Russia bilateral summit & deliveries of the first units of S400 air defence systems.