The article examines the complex relationship between Russia and the Afghan Taliban movement from the moment the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan in 1996 to the present day. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Taliban's attitude towards Russia was hostile. The author notes that during this period, to stabilize the situation along the perimeter of the borders of its Central Asian allies, neutralize terrorist threats emanating from the territory of Afghanistan, and stop drug trafficking, Moscow used both military, political and diplomatic leverage. On the one hand, Russia provided military-technical assistance to the Northern Alliance, and, on the other hand, took an active part in the introduction of anti- Taliban sanctions through the UN. Since 2003, after the Afghan Taliban movement was recognized in Russia as a terrorist organization, Moscow has stood in solidarity with the efforts of the Western powers led by the United States to restore security in Afghanistan. However, in 2010, amid the stalemate in the Afghan conflict, the international community supported the policy of national reconciliation of IRA President Hamid Karzai, including possible negotiations with the «moderate» Taliban. In 2011, the UN Security Council adopted a new resolution 1988, separating the Taliban from al-Qaeda and creating conditions for the advancement of the process of national reconciliation. The author draws attention to the numerous unofficial contacts of various states with the Taliban, which actually led to the legitimization of the movement. Later, Russia, having established contacts with the Taliban movement, began to play a more important role in the settlement of the Afghan conflict through the Moscow format of consultations on Afghanistan and the «expanded troika». The author argues that the diplomatic steps of Moscow in recent years have laid a good foundation for building constructive relations with the new Afghan government, increasing the regional role of Russia.
Russia, the Taliban; the United States; UN sanctions; national reconciliation; official Kabul; the Moscow format; «the expanded troika».