Russia, China & India – Working together in Afghanistan

By Pranay Sharma

While world leaders debate whether or not to engage with the Taliban-led leadership in Afghanistan and how, Russia seeks to reassure its longtime partner India that New Delhi’s perspective matters.

Just recently Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. To assess the situation in Afghanistan. The leaders agreed to create a joint group of representatives of the foreign policy departments and the national security sphere.

Russia appears to be in no hurry to recognize the Taliban *. Moscow will share its assessment of the situation with New Delhi as soon as it is held.

The capture of Kabul by the Taliban opened the way for Russia and China to expand their influence in South and Central Asia. Both countries, as well as Qatar, which maintains good relations with Taliban political leaders, have not closed their embassies in the Afghan capital, while the United States and its allies, as well as India, hastily seek to evacuate their staff.

New Delhi’s influence on the Taliban is small, given India’s deep suspicions of an Islamist group, which it accuses of harboring militants who carried out attacks in Kashmir, which it controls, with the encouragement of the country’s nemesis, Pakistan.

Earlier this month, Russia convened an “enlarged three” meeting in Doha with the US, China and Pakistan to discuss the future of Afghanistan, but India was not invited.

The Taliban owe nobody for their victory

“Everyone is rushing about right now, trying to figure out how to protect their interests,” says PS Raghavan, former chairman of India’s National Security Advisory Council. However, according to him, it is not easier for Moscow and Beijing to deal with the Taliban. Although both countries supported the US withdrawal, he adds, “The Taliban owe neither China nor Russia for their victory.”

Indeed, while China has offered to help rebuild Afghanistan, it is concerned that extremism will spread to Xinjiang, the country’s northernmost province. On Wednesday, Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping held a telephone conversation to discuss the security situation. Xi told Putin that Beijing is willing to work with other countries, including Russia, to push all parties in Afghanistan to create an inclusive political structure cut off from terrorist groups.

Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, believes that Russia views China and India as its two main strategic partners. India and Russia define their ties as a “special and privileged strategic partnership” and meet regularly to engage in trade, energy, science, technology and culture.

However, Indian observers also point to Moscow’s warmer relations with Beijing as a source of concern for New Delhi. Last year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov characterized the Quadripartite Security Dialogue (Quad), which includes the US, India, Australia and Japan, as “anti-Chinese” and called it an American ploy to shield New Delhi from Moscow’s influence. Then Indian observers noted that he was silent about the threat that China poses to India, because these countries are involved in a border dispute.

In the modern world, there is no exclusivity in relations

“In the modern world, there is no exclusivity in relations. We can talk about Russia and China, and they will talk about India and the United States, ”says Raghavan, who served as ambassador to Russia in 2014-2016. India, he adds, will have to control bilateral relations in such a way that they do not affect the core interests of other relations.

New Delhi’s concerns about Moscow’s commitment to their partnership increased when Russia took part in a large-scale joint military exercise with China in the Ningxia region earlier this month, using Su-30SM fighters, motorized rifle formations and air defense systems.

This move has caused bewilderment in Delhi, and not only because Moscow is the main supplier of military equipment for India and provides 55% of its military needs. The joint exercises took place against the backdrop of a year-long military clash between China and India in Ladakh.

Deependra Singh Hooda, a retired lieutenant general and former chief of the Indian Army’s Northern Command, said the joint exercise was “intended for the United States, not India.” In his opinion, fears that China will learn about India’s military equipment are unfounded, since most of the equipment supplied by Russia is the same for both sides. “It is wrong to feel oppressed by such teachings,” added Huda.

Moscow tried to facilitate dialogue between Dely and Beijing

Kanwal Sibal, a former Indian foreign secretary who served as Indian ambassador to Moscow from 2004-2007, says Russia has been supplying advanced military equipment to China for many years and has also conducted military exercises with Pakistan. Joint exercises are also conducted within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s security group, in addition, Russia has conducted naval exercises with China in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. As noted by Sibal, Russia also conducts annual military exercises with India. “There is no reason to be particularly worried about these joint military exercises,” he adds.

According to the head of the Carnegie Trenin Moscow Center, Moscow also tried to facilitate dialogue between Delhi and Beijing last year, but the Ladakh dispute is a sovereign issue between the two countries. “Russia will never unite with China against India, it is a completely reliable partner of India,” he said.

According to former national security adviser Raghavan, a guaranteed supply of spare parts for military equipment is better than joint exercises. When China wanted Russia to suspend supplies to India during a border clash, he said, Moscow calmly signaled that it would continue its supplies.

Unlike the Cold War era, Trenin says, India-Russia relations are not exclusive, as India has moved closer to the United States in recent years, which sees Russia as a rival and imposes sanctions on it. India took part in joint naval exercises with the United States as part of the Quad, he said, and while Russia may not like it, it did not question New Delhi’s right to choose partners. “In the changing geopolitical and strategic environment of the 21st century, Moscow and Delhi need to learn to develop their valuable strategic partnership in a non-exclusive manner,” Trenin said.

Most of India’s military equipment is of Russian origin

According to the Washington-based Stimson Center, 86 percent of India’s military equipment, weapons and platforms are of Russian origin, from aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines to tanks deployed in Ladakh. The Su-30MKI fighter, the backbone of the Indian Air Force, is also of Russian origin, while the Indian supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, capable of carrying a nuclear charge, was developed with Russia.

The US is also supplying India with military equipment, such as Apache and Chinook helicopters and M777 howitzers deployed in Ladakh, as well as Boeing C-17 and C-130J aircraft, which provide the Indian Air Force with strategic airlift capability. The US-made P81 anti-submarine aircraft is also popular with the Indian Navy.

According to the Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India was the second largest arms importer in the world in 2015-2019. Although New Delhi has diversified its defense sources, making Israel and France the main suppliers as well, Russia remains at the top of the list.

According to the SIPRI database, since 2014, Russia has sold $ 9.3 billion worth of defense materials, and the United States received $ 2.3 billion for similar goods over the same period. Since 2000, deliveries from Russia have accounted for more than two-thirds of India’s total $ 51 billion defense imports.

According to Trenin, Russia does not have a monopoly on the sale of military equipment to India, and New Delhi has been diversifying its defense imports for many years. “However, a defense relationship is a matter of mutual trust, like treating a friend you can trust in times of crisis,” he said.

I thought Italy would be next to leave the EU… But…

Now I’m convinced it will be Hungary because it looks like Brexit all over again

Paul A. Nuttall is a historian, author and a former politician. He was a Member of the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019 and was a prominent campaigner for Brexit.I believe Viktor Orban could be readying his country for ‘Huxit’. If he is not, then he is playing a high-stakes game of poker with the overlords in Brussels.


Earlier this week, Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet (Hungarian Nation) ran a headline saying, “it is time to talk about Huxit.” This is a huge development because the newspaper is considered to be the unofficial mouthpiece of Orban’s government. Till then it looked like Italy would be the next to leave EU.   

Last month, the newspaper announced that “the time has come, now in July 2021, to seriously consider the possibility of our withdrawal from a union of states with a thousand bleeding wounds, showing imperial symptoms, and treating the eastern and central European countries incredibly arrogantly.

The newspaper also stated that there is a culture clash between Western and Eastern European values, something I argued on RT.com last month. Similarly, Magyar Nemzetopined that “our paths have diverged as the West now consciously… breaks from Christian morality and values. Instead, they aim to build a cosmopolitan, faceless world society based on the unbridled self-enjoyment and self-destruction of the individual… we Hungarians, Poles and central and eastern European people hold on to our cultural and religious foundations.”

Reading this came like a welcome dose of déjà vu to an old Brexiteer like myself. All the way back in November 2010, the Daily Express, became the first mainstream British newspaper to come out in favour of the UK leaving the European Union.

The Daily Express announced that “from this day forth our energies will be directed to furthering the cause of those who believe Britain is Better Off Out.” And continued, “after far too many years as the victims of Brussels larceny, bullying, over-regulation and all-round interference, the time has come for the British people to win back their country and restore legitimacy and accountability to their political process.”

To put the importance of this announcement into some perspective, this was the first time that a mainstream British newspaper had come out in favour of withdrawal from Europe since the 1975 referendum. Suddenly, being in favour of what later became known as Brexit was not the preserve of “cranks and political gadflies,” as one Conservative Party leader called us, and instead became a mainstream idea. In fact, the brave decision taken by the Daily Express was one of the most important events on the long and rocky road to 2016’s Brexit.   

 And now we have history repeating itself in Hungary. It surely cannot be a coincidence that a mainstream Hungarian newspaper is now questioning its country’s membership of the bloc, especially one with links to the government. I would argue that this has come straight from the Brexit playbook.

And it seems as if Brussels is waking up to fact that Hungary is seriously considering making a dash for the exit door. Yesterday, it was announced that the European Commission had missed the deadline to impose financial penalties on Hungary for not complying with the bloc’s“values.”  This will undoubtedly trigger an inter-institutional conflict in Brussels, as the European Parliament has demanded that Orban’s Hungary be punished. The dispute may well end up in the European Court of Justice (ECJ), as the European Parliament is determined to punish Hungary for its stance regarding LGBTQ rights.   

However, the fact that the European Commission, which is not bound by public opinion like the European Parliament, is not prepared to invoke sanctions against Hungary is most informative. Whereas the EU was all too eager to recently punish Poland, maybe because it was confident that its government would back down, it seems to be treating Hungary with kid gloves. Maybe the penny has finally dropped in Brussels, and they have realised that to impose financial sanctions would play right into Orban’s hands.   

It could be argued that Orban is playing a high-risk game – but that is only the case if he really wants to stay in the EU – and I am not convinced that he does. I suspect that Orban is carefully dipping his toe in the Huxit bath. If he finds the water agreeable, he may well plunge right in, which could spark a crisis in the EU even worse than Brexit. You see, the UK was never really a comfortable member of the EU. It was a reluctant partner, but never a friend, which made divorce at some point an inevitability. 

Hungary, however, is much different, as it is client state of Brussels bean-counters. It is a net benefactor of EU funds, and unlike the UK, which handed over cash to Brussels as if it were confetti, it is in receipt of millions of euros every year. But in the end, Hungary may decide that money isn’t everything, and traditional values are more important. And if this does happen, I wouldn’t bet against other Eastern European states following suit, as they grow increasingly uncomfortable with the West’s dictatorial liberalism.   

US withdrawal from Afghanistan – Leonid Ivashov

A shameful flight or a move in a big game?

Leonid Ivashov and Igor Shishkin on what is behind the US defeat in Afghanistan. What are the consequences of the change of power in this country can have for Russia and the world. Why Afghanistan is called the solar plexus of Eurasia.

I. Shishkin: Leonid Grigorievich, this is the first question I have for you in connection with what happened in Afghanistan: the flight of the United States is very much reminiscent of what happened in Vietnam, they are talking a lot about this now, showing some footage, drawing parallels. And the question for you, in fact, as a specialist is to understand what is behind such an escape? Or they are deliberately doing this in order to provoke chaos in this territory, which will engulf its neighbors, China, Iran, Pakistan and Russia. Or, secondly, the United States really could not otherwise hold on to the situation. According to some experts, the United States has demonstrated by such a flight that it is a fading power, they say, there can be many ambitions, but not so many abilities.

Leonid Grigorievich Ivashov. Russian military and public figure, colonel general. Specialist in the field of geopolitics, conflict management, international relations, military history. President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems.

L. Ivashov: Igor Sergeyevich, I generally exclude “flight” from my vocabulary when assessing the actions of the Americans. Let’s think about why the Americans are organizing their military presence, for some reason we think, since they have come, then they will put things in order there, make the population happy, stabilize the situation, and so on. Alas, Americans do not go anywhere for this purpose. They came there to take control of this very important geostrategic region. Afghanistan is the solar plexus of Eurasia, as it is called. Here is an access to powerful states, even civilizations, for example, like China. They once deliberately did this, their nuclear missile test site. Plus access to Pakistan, which has good relations with China lately. There is also an exit to India, then Iran, and so on.

In general, this is a very important region of the world, especially for Eurasia. The Americans built an airfield there, they came to influence the former Soviet, Central Central Asia, to influence Iran, India and so on from here. How to influence? Not only where to carry out some kind of military provocations or special operations, but to influence the maintenance of uncontrollable chaos. Let’s not forget that it was with the arrival of the Americans that drug trafficking increased, because this is the impact on your opponents through drug flows. Americans leave from wherever they go, they stay when they leave. 

So I, while still in the service for several years, noticed that they are campaigning, including among Afghans, in Russia, luring people to their territory in the United States. Moreover, there they are given appropriate education, training, and so on. The question is: what for? This is the preparation of the fifth column, or you can call it whatever you like. They stirred up, created this powerful Taliban movement and calmly leave, they were not even touched at the airport. And now, when they leave, they say, they say, you are going to clean up now. They armed, in fact, this population, everyone lives with some kind of weapon, created these warring groups and left. Further, we see that it is not the Americans who are alarmed now, but precisely the neighboring countries are alarmed. Therefore, to consider it a defeat or flight is, well, at least premature. that it is not the Americans who are alarmed now, but the neighboring countries are alarmed. 

I. Shishkin: This raises the following question then. You say that they came there not to make happy, not to deal with international terrorism, but they came in order to create a lot of trouble for their geopolitical opponents. But, doesn’t this mean that they were still unable to keep Afghanistan? After all, it was probably more profitable for them not to plunge into chaos, but to create powerful bases there, from which they could threaten China, for example, India and Russia, Central Asia and so on.

L. Ivashov:I think that all of this in the aggregate was at the same time and was planned. There is a continuous war, of course, the population is tired, the population wants peace, and I believe there will be peace. But, Americans, look where they just did not conduct these military actions, the same Iraq, Yugoslavia, in Libya. And then they calmly leave, therefore, did they try to stay there? Yes, of course, they would like to have military bases there, and so on, because they have already begun to build airfields there. It was not even Biden who decided this, it was even under Trump that it was decided that the troops would withdraw. 

You need to understand that the nature of this war has changed. And then, let’s see who’s coming there now? Turkey is paired with Qatar, it goes there. We are talking about the current moment, some of the Syrian militants were not accidentally transferred there, although the Afghans themselves are against the presence of other countries in general. China and Pakistan, for example, they also act in pairs, they were very interested in the Americans leaving. But, China is very powerful there, let’s face it. You can’t see it, nothing, but it is present, because China needs a stable and calm Afghanistan. But the Anglo-Saxons learned to do well, not to be present by military force, but to be present in a different way. 

Well, for example, we saw Syria, in Syria the Americans were little present, but look what movements they created there. They were in the shadows, but at the same time they created very powerful movements. We wish, of course, stability to be there. But, the question arises: will different groups of the Taliban start fighting among themselves tomorrow? And will they not create some other movements with American money that will fight against China and others, for example. they were very interested in the Americans leaving. 

I. Shishkin: Considering that the United States absolutely does not need “one belt, one road”, they are very interested in such a development of events.

L. Ivashov: Let’s see, God forbid, that this happens. But, experience suggests that the Americans, it seems, were not present somewhere militarily too strongly, but the states are gradually being destroyed. And it is not known how long such cases will last, because they are always and everywhere.

I. Shishkin: That is, to paraphrase the famous phrase that Great Britain has no eternal enemies, no eternal allies, but only eternal interests, then we can say that the Anglo-Saxons are guided by that there are no eternal victories and eternal defeats. After all, each victory will then turn into a defeat, but this defeat can be turned into a victory.

L. Ivashov: It was recorded that British intelligence spoke about its tasks, they say, that the Arabs should fight against the Arabs for our British interests.

I. Shishkin: One more question: nevertheless, the interest of the Americans is understandable, they are masters of organizing chaos in their own interests, but what about the regimes? They left Saigon, what they were creating collapsed instantly. They did not have time to leave Afghanistan completely, the regime they created collapses instantly. Vietnam still exists, for example, Cuba still exists, even though we left. It turns out that the regimes they create collapse instantly as soon as the bayonet disappears, and the regimes that we created exist and are very stable.

L. Ivashov: Well, they really consider Vietnam their defeat there. But, they know how to benefit from defeats, and then the same Middle East, stirred everything up there, brought some regimes that are unstable. As a result, the entire Middle East is unstable now, but here you must always look at what economic damage the Americans have suffered. Have they suffered any economic damage at all?

I. Shishkin: It seems that no.

“We are not a colony of the EU”

A new leader came to the fore of the EU

Since July 2021, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa has risen to the level of politicians in the Old World of the first rank. Over the next six months, his country will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. For many in the unification leadership, this is an unpleasant acquaintance

He is considered a copycat of Donald Trump for the revised slogan of the American President “Slovenia First”. For his addiction to social networks, he is called “Marshal of Tvito”, and for his rejection of migration, he is called “an anti-liberal democrat.” But none of those nicknames would have attached to Slovenia’s 62-year-old Prime Minister Janez Janshe, a right-wing conservative, were it not for his habit of expressing thoughts bluntly. Jansha began his country’s presidency of the Council of the European Union by warning about the disintegration of the bloc, which could happen if some countries continue to “impose” “imaginary European values” on others, and immediately warned against considering Slovenia a  “colony” or “Europe of the second class”. 

Jansha knows what he is talking about firsthand: his political career started during the years of the collapse of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Over time, starting as a left-wing radical, he turned into a staunch Slovenian nationalist. You have to pay for everything: the price was the damage to relations with Brussels.

Among the seven authorities of the European Union, only one – the Council of the EU (which is sometimes equated with the upper house of the European Parliament) – assumes the chairmanship of all members of the association in turn. This is the only platform that allows the EU countries that are in opposition to its course (Slovenia is also included) to declare themselves. In Brussels, however, they know how to manage a bureaucratic calendar. So, preparations were made for the appearance of Janez Janshi in the European political Olympus in advance – this event was preceded by numerous critical publications in the press.

The main message of most of them was similar: the Slovene, already well-known in the European arena, has changed a lot in recent years. When Yansha headed his country in 2004-2008, she had no difficulties with the European Union. But the ensuing global economic crisis and mass migration from the Middle East in 2015–2016 pushed the former European-compatible politician to a position of nationalism. Since then, he has supported the construction of walls on the borders with neighbors, quarrels with liberal journalists and judges, and prefers to be friends with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Jansha became critical of ideas that the EU considers to be part of their values, which lies beyond compromise: in particular, support for LGBT people. Together, this is a rather big burden in the eyes of the EU leadership, especially when it comes to a person,

That is why no one was surprised that a disagreement between the future partners occurred already at the first joint press conference of the Slovenian leader in his new capacity and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. “The European Union unites countries with different traditions, different cultures … and all these discrepancies must be taken into account and respected,” Jansha made a statement with subtext. Von der Leyen didn’t like it: “Freedom of speech, [cultural and racial] diversity and equality are fundamental European values,” she retorted . The European media saw the beginning of a conflict in this exchange of views, which seems convincing, because von der Leyen’s deputy Frans Timmermans reacted rather harshly: he refused to be photographed with Janscha.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, left, speaks with Slovenia’s Prime Minister Janez Jansa during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. European Union leaders gather for a second day of meetings to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and to assess new measures on how to meet targets to become climate-neutral by mid-century. (John Thys, Pool via AP)

During the first speech in the European Parliament, the Slovenian had no easier time. Green and Liberal MPs (Renew Europe) gave him a cold welcome. “I am afraid, Mr. Jansha, that the events in your country do not leave us the opportunity to trust you,” said Malik Azmani, the people’s choice from the Netherlands. LGBT. This also includes corruption and abuse. ” Ska Keller, co-chair of the Green faction in the European Parliament, accused Jansha, a former journalist, of “a campaign to slander the Slovenian mass media.”

Eastern European Union?

Jansha has long compensated for the difficulties with the countries of Western Europe by rapprochement with Hungary. Until now, his support for this country was mostly moral. Like Orban, Yansha strongly opposed the participation in politics of the American billionaire George Soros and even entered into controversy with him through the social network: “Stay away from Europe, please. Your dirty money and so-called non-profit organizations have become the most serious provocateurs of conflicts on the continent. destroying trust between peoples and democracy. Brexit alone is enough. Europe needs to recover, ” wrote the  indignant Jansha. 

Another point of intersection between the leaders: Slovenia has long been considered one of those states, on whose help Hungary can count on if sanctions against it are put to a European vote.

However, as the  authors of the investigative journalism argue , Yansha’s and Orban’s connections extend beyond that. Allegedly, when creating his own mass media, the Slovenian leader attracted funds from Hungarian entrepreneurs from Orban’s entourage.

But on the other side of the business relationship, there is something that brings both politicians together, which is not limited to money. Both Fidesz Orbana and the Slovenian Democratic Party of Janshi assume that they represent small countries whose identities are threatened by the changes taking place in the world. Therefore, back in 2015, both states developed a common approach to the migration issue: the construction of walls. And Slovenia even got ahead of its neighbor, erecting sections of fortifications on the Croatian border, that is, directly within the EU, “protecting” not Europe, but the Schengen zone from states that did not enter it.

“Slovenia in the first place!”, “Without us, Slovenes, there will be no Slovenia!” – These slogans, considered marginal at the beginning of the century, brought Yanshi’s party an election victory in 2018. The local media, oriented to European public opinion, launched a campaign against the prime minister, but could not undermine his power. The relationship between them turned into a regime of mutual attacks. Knowing the attitude of Yanshi to the Yugoslav communist regime (which condemned him to a criminal term), the media called the prime minister “Marshal Tvito” – by analogy with the Yugoslav dictator Marshal Josip Broz Tito. Yanshe also managed to touch the sensitive strings of the soul of his opponents. While still in opposition, his party organized a nationwide essay competition for children on the benefits of living in a homogeneous country without migrants.

Small country and one very big

In the plane of confrontation between part of the Eastern European states and Brussels in the 2010s, a new player, China, made itself felt. A conflict with the European Union in the language of real politics usually means a willingness to deal with the Middle Kingdom. This is most clearly demonstrated by Viktor Orban himself: his country has actively joined the Belt and Road Initiative, the key element of which is planned to be the railway between Budapest and Belgrade. Orban readily accepts loans from Chinese banks, which are given in such a way that the money will be spent on projects related to the PRC. One of these is the branch of Shanghai Fudan University in Budapest. True, the outcome of this undertaking is unclear: the Hungarian opposition mobilized against it in the summer of 2021.

For Slovenia, which is at odds with Brussels, it is also about receiving Chinese money. The main directions of these investments are outlined by the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China: improving the port in the city of Koper, laying railways, participating in the privatization of local state-owned companies. The advantage of Chinese investment in the eyes of Eastern Europeans is the lack of political conditions and respect for local culture. A potential drawback is the growth of debt, which for a small state may be unbearable. This is one of the reasons why Budapest and Ljubljana will hardly dare to go east too far.

However critical in Eastern Europe (including Slovenia) some of the proposals of the pan-European leadership may be, for the elites of these countries it is not only and not so much an adversary as a difficult negotiating partner. After all, both Slovenia and Hungary are direct recipients of the EU’s annual aid, which they (especially in a crisis) are not ready to refuse. Therefore, we can expect that the verbal escalation between Orban, Yansha and Europe, although it will continue, but the critical line, both leaders will not cross. Their task is different – to be heard. After all, what seems natural for large countries with a long history of persecution of minorities, followed by late repentance, looks completely different from the point of view of small states (Slovenia’s population is only 2.1 million) without a sense of collective guilt.

Afghanistan – a unique chance for a military alliance between Russia & China

From Russian Point of View

The inglorious and hasty departure of the US military contingents and their allies from the territory of Afghanistan is today almost the main world news , discussed by everyone – from serious analysts to idle gossips. This is not surprising – after all, this event, no doubt, will have geopolitical consequences that go far beyond the purely regional level.

Already now, forecasts are being made with might and main, and numerous versions are being put forward as to what exactly these very consequences may be. There are already plenty of similar “virtualities” built. However, it seems that one of them is missing – rather non-trivial and extremely intriguing just for our country.

No matter how the events in Afghanistan develop further, where the war (both with the participation of foreign troops and without them) has not subsided for many decades, it would be extremely naive to hope for a peaceful scenario that will develop “by itself”. The wrong country, the wrong people, the wrong internal “alignments” and factors of external influence … It is unlikely that a full-fledged solution to the problems of a state that is about to “break apart” again will be possible without a “power component”. This is where a turn is possible, which few expected today, but more than real in the future.

Reluctant peacekeepers?

It should be noted that it is Russia and China (among the major geopolitical “players”) that have the greatest and most direct interest in ensuring that Afghanistan, with the withdrawal of American soldiers from there, does not turn into a new Syria, or something worse. Let’s try to consider their reasons specifically, albeit in the most condensed and schematic form. 

First of all, neither Russia nor China “smiles” in any way as an excessive strengthening of the Taliban, nor, even more so, the revival of ISIS, which is quite likely at the present moment (both organizations are banned in Russia). And regarding the prospects for a keen bickering of many smaller, but from this no less harmful Islamist groups, which can turn both the country itself and all the regions adjacent to it into bloody bedlam, we can say exactly the same thing.

Radical and militant Islamism is an extremely nasty thing, in particular, because it has a pronounced ability, speaking in medical terms, to produce abundant metastases. Its export to the former Soviet republics of Central Asia for our country will mean a sharp increase in the terrorist threat, flows of refugees and illegal migrants, an increase in drug trafficking, arms smuggling and a lot of other “delights”. China, on the other hand, has a common border with Afghanistan, and even, as a sin, in the Xinjiang Uyghur region, inhabited mainly by Muslims. 

There is no doubt that given the current level of Beijing’s “friendship” with the West, there will be innumerable people willing to direct the expansion of radicals under a green or black banner in this very direction. However, to the reality of the prospects of their attacks on Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, this also applies to the fullest. To “spoil the blood” of the Russians and their allies by the hands of the Islamists is for the “white Sahibs” the most proven and, alas, effective method.

It should also not be forgotten that the Chinese comrades absolutely do not need any changes in not only the bordering Afghanistan, but the Pakistan that has “merged” with it. They have very big plans for this country within the framework of the One Belt – One Road project, considerable investments have already been made there, and even more are expected. In Beijing, they definitely do not agree to carry out a grandiose construction “under the roar of cannonade”. In one of the publications I happened to come across a phantasmagoric version that the Chinese de “offered the Taliban infrastructure and energy projects worth billions of dollars in exchange for lasting peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan”, having reached an appropriate agreement. This is just ridiculous. The “Islamic Emirate” (and this is how the Taliban deign to call themselves officially) is, to put it mildly, not quite the structure with which one can negotiate anything at all.

And as for financial investments, did the United States greatly help the US $ 137 billion, which it poured over two decades into the “reconstruction and development” of Afghanistan in ensuring stability in this completely unpredictable country and keeping its own protégés in power there? The Chinese are not more stupid and certainly not more naive than the Yankees. They know how to take into account and not repeat their mistakes in the most beautiful way. And so, by the way, with regard to the United States and not only them … One of the most important tasks for both Russia and China in the current situation is to prevent the preservation and even strengthening of the military-strategic positions in the region of the Americans who are now carrying out an exemplary “drape” from it and their allies, as well as the penetration of other forces there – for example, the same Turkey, rushing with the ghost of “Great Turan”. Just let them go

A Commonwealth Time to Put Into Practice

It has been known for a long time that the US army (and, in particular, specific “offices”) are excellently able to “stay while leaving”. However, they are not alone – for example, the British Daily Telegraph, citing sources in the Special Airborne Service (SAS), reported that the British special forces may well “stay” in Afghanistan. Allegedly “for the training of the local military.” Obviously, those that today surrender to the Taliban in thousands and flee to neighboring Tajikistan. It is perfectly clear against whom all the military and other similar structures of states that have declared their enemies No. 1 not some Taliban, but Russia and China, will actually act from Afghan territory. In addition, Washington does not abandon its attempts to openly settle even closer to our country – in Kazakhstan, for example. This should not be allowed in any case.

Where do we end up? Neither Moscow nor Beijing can afford to “let the situation in Afghanistan take its course”, relying on “maybe it will be formed”. Could it come to the necessity of bringing certain military contingents into this territory? Let’s be realistic – more than. And just do not need “oohs” and “oohs”, hysterics about “the danger of repeating the” Afghan break “of the USSR model”! Firstly, even then, everything was far from being as disastrous as they tried to convince us later, and it could have been even more successful – if not for some strategic miscalculations of the country’s leadership and the army. Secondly, the experience of the Syrian campaign convincingly proves that it is precisely these mistakes that Russia has realized and is not going to repeat. Well, and thirdly, forgive the cynicism, if a state with the ambitions of a world power does not participate in wars outside its own limits, war will sooner or later come to his land. To paraphrase Napoleon, a country that does not create military bases on foreign territory will receive foreign bases on its own. In this particular case, the “alignment” is exactly this and the other is not available.

Much more interesting, perhaps, is the question of what kind of forms military cooperation between Russia and China could take in ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan and the adjacent region? We will consider the topic primarily in a pragmatic aspect – Beijing, perhaps, is much more interested than our country in the material side of solving this problem. “One Belt – One Road” could indeed be extended to Afghan territory – provided a stable peace is established there. For our country, in turn, it is more important to ensure the security of borders – both our own and allies in the same CSTO. However, why not get additional benefits from solving these problems? The People’s Liberation Army of China probably has the military-technical resources to conduct a peacekeeping operation of this magnitude. The problem here is something else – the complete absence of an extremely specific experience, vital in this case. But just our military has it – and from some of them it was acquired directly in Afghanistan, which makes it absolutely invaluable. Each side has something to offer each other, realizing that it will be problematic for both Moscow and Beijing to cope with an incredibly large-scale task alone. That is why such a configuration of the Russian-Chinese peacekeeping contingent seems to be the most appropriate, in which the Celestial Empire would take on the main burden of the logistical and financial support of the mission, and our country would be responsible for its other aspects arising from the presence of a huge array of “developments” which became the result of both the previous Afghan campaign and the recent Syrian one.

Extending the Treaty on Good Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation between Russia and China, the leaders of the two countries spoke very sparingly about the purely military aspects of this very cooperation. Naturally – after all, such things are not announced to the general public. Nevertheless, Vladimir Putin emphasized that “coordination between Moscow and Beijing” undoubtedly plays a serious “stabilizing role”, including in the context of “increasing conflict potential in various parts of the world.” Ensuring peace in Afghanistan can be an excellent example of such “stabilization” in the Russian-Chinese implementation. And this will be even more important in light of the fact that, in front of the eyes of the whole world, the corresponding mission was failed miserably and shamefully by the United States and its allies.

The military alliance between Moscow and Beijing is for the “collective West” perhaps the biggest nightmare they can imagine. On this occasion, in particular, they have repeatedly and very sharply expressed themselves in the White House, calling the very possibility of such an alliance “a direct challenge to the vital interests of the United States.” In order to show that all these are not empty fears, but a very real prospect, over which the West really needs to ponder, the Russian and Chinese military sooner or later need to stand shoulder to shoulder not in exercises, but in a real combat situation, which fully checks for the strength of weapons, people, and defense alliances. So why shouldn’t this happen in Afghanistan?

War games in the Arctic

The first combat icebreaker was put into service

Against the background of the intensification of the Russian Northern Fleet in the high Arctic latitudes, for example, in recent years, Russian ships conducted training voyages along the Northern Sea Route to the New Siberian Islands, the Royal Canadian Navy adopted the first Arctic patrol ship Harry Devolph. It was laid down in 2016, launched in 2018, and on June 26, 2021 in Halifax. the adoption ceremony took place. As early as August this year, “Harry Devolph” will travel north to participate in the annual Arctic exercise.

In addition to the lead ship – “Harry Devolf”, it is planned to build five more icebreakers of this class. The purchase contract between the Canadian Department of Defense and the Canadian shipbuilding company Irving Shipbuilding was signed in 2015. The total value of the contract is CAD 4.3 billion. The net purchase share is estimated at CAD 2.3 billion. The remaining amount is intended for the maintenance of the ships for a period of 25 years. Given the harsh operating conditions in the Arctic, the Canadian Navy believes that in 25 years the ships will be decommissioned. It was planned to build two ships every year. The new warships are specifically designed to patrol Canada’s northernmost regions and sea waters. It is planned that they will also strengthen the country’s position in the Arctic.

“Harry Devolph”

“Harry Devolph” with a displacement of 6.6 thousand tons has a length of 103.6 m. The ship is driven by a diesel-electric system of four generators with a capacity of 3.6 MW and two diesel engines with a capacity of 6 thousand hp. On free water, the ship develops a speed of up to 17 knots. When breaking one meter thick ice – up to 3 knots. The standard crew of the “Harry Devolf” is 65 people. Up to 22 people can be additionally taken on board.

Diagram of an arctic patrol ship of the “Harry Devolph” class.

According to Western experts, the design of the “Harry Devolf” is very similar to the Norwegian coast guard ship “Svalbard” (KV “Svalbard”), so, for example, their basic dimensions practically coincide. The design of the ship takes into account the peculiarities of operations in the Arctic region. There is a closed tank to protect equipment and personnel from the extreme weather conditions of the arctic climate. The payload is located aft, where you can install up to six 20-foot ISO containers, unmanned underwater vehicles, a 12-meter landing boat, as well as weapons and equipment for the landing units.

A crane installed at the stern with a lifting capacity of up to 20 tons allows the ship to unload not only in equipped ports, which is of significant importance in the Arctic. The separate interior vehicle deck can be loaded with off-road vehicles, light trucks and snowmobiles. A CH-148 helicopter can be accommodated in the stern hangar. The helicopter will be used for naval reconnaissance, anti-submarine combat (equipped with two torpedoes) and search and rescue operations. Armed with a Harry Devolph 25mm Mark 38 artillery mount and two M2 heavy machine guns.

Similar Russian ice-class patrol ships are still under construction

Similar Russian ice-class patrol ships are still under construction. Although the contract for the construction until 2020 of the first two ships of Project 23550 (code “Arctic”) was signed between the Russian Ministry of Defense and JSC “Admiralty Shipyards” on May 4, 2016, but the lead ship of the series – “Ivan Papanin” was launched only October 25, 2019 and now stands at the outfitting wall. The transfer to the fleet is scheduled for late 2023.

According to the project, the standard displacement of “Ivan Papanin” is 6.8 thousand tons, length – 114.5 m, crew – 60 people. That is, quite close to the Canadian “Harry Devolph”. However, unlike the Canadian, the Russian combat icebreaker is armed to the teeth: missile armament – 2 container launchers of the KR “Caliber” missile system or 2 launchers of the “Uran” Kh-35U missile system artillery armament – 1 x 76.2 mm AU AK-176MA, 2 x 30 mm AK-306M, 4 x 12.7 mm.

Also on board the ship will be based two high-speed patrol combat boats of the project 03160 “Raptor”. They are designed to pursue and detain violators of the sea borders of the state border and boarding operations. And in the deck hangar – a Ka-27 helicopter and a UAV.  

Why Montenegro is unable to pay its debt towards Chinese Banks?

Abazovic: Montenegro loses one highway in 20 years due to cigarette smuggling. And this is just one of the reasons why Montenegro is unable to pay its debt for a new highway to Chinese Banks

A dose of panic and nervousness was introduced among the people who participated in the smuggling

He said that 247 thousand boxes of cigarettes, which were smuggled from the territory of Montenegro without appropriate excise stamps, and seized on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, were actually cigarettes that were stolen recently from the Port of Bar.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Montenegro, Dritan Abazović, said that the state budget loses 30-35 million euros a year through cigarette smuggling, which is 350 to 400 million euros in 10 years. 

– It is a business that involves hundreds of millions of euros in traffic and has created a situation where Montenegro loses one highway in 20 years. We do not think that such a practice should be continued. The state has launched investigations that will show who was involved in cigarette smuggling in the previous period and lead to the punishment of those who caused damage to the state budget.

Analyzes also show that there will be aggravating circumstances for companies that operate legally, and which store cigarettes in the port of Bar. The agreement is that all contracts are respected to the end. Some have expired, some expire in February 2021, but this is a measure that must be implemented – said Abazović as a guest in the daily of Television Vijesti.

He said that 247 thousand boxes of cigarettes, which were smuggled from the territory of Montenegro without appropriate excise stamps, and seized on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, were actually cigarettes that were stolen recently from the Port of Bar.

– A part of the stolen cigarettes owned by the companies “Aurora” and Atlant Mont “were confiscated and it was located with the help of our administration and the administration in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Please be patient because these are the most complicated operations in the country. The network of smugglers is large in Montenegro and abroad. We work with the modest help of institutions,” Abazovic said.

Speaking about the decision of the Government to ban the storage of cigarettes in the Port of Bar, Abazović said that it is one of the historical ones, along with the one concerning the Ulcinj Solana.

– Montenegro is recognized as a country that is smuggled and from which 20 percent of smuggled cigarettes are transferred to the countries of the European Union and Great Britain. This Government has decided to put an end to this. The decision to prevent storage in the port of Bar, which is the main smuggling point, is a big blow to the organized crime scene, but that is just the beginning – said Abazović.

He said that the Bureau for Operational Coordination expressed suspicion that they were performing illegal activities in the new tobacco factory, which is why he will also be subject to control.

– I cannot accuse anyone without evidence, but I can say that illegal activities are being carried out in the new tobacco factory and that we have well-founded suspicions. The behavior of the management of the new tobacco is not as it should be. The government and the state must not declare themselves smugglers. This was possible earlier while certain parts of the Government were involved – said Abazović.

He said that the citizens view the fight against cigarette smuggling as a grand finale, and that it will not be completely stopped until there are changes in the prosecution.

– Evidence is being gathered. A dose of panic and nervousness was introduced among the people who participated in the smuggling activities. However, we must establish a new Prosecutorial Council as soon as possible, because without a prosecutor we cannot determine the things that citizens expect – said Abazović.

Many people in Vesna Bratić’s team work against her

Commenting on the controversial decisions of the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports, Vesna Bratic, regarding appointments in education, Abazovic said that there were debatable decisions, such as the appointment of Rade Visnjic, but they were immediately corrected.

– This is a government that certainly makes decisions that are debatable. There was a situation with the director in Bar but the mistake was corrected immediately. I talked to Vesna Bratic and I think that a lot of people in her team work against her. Some do not want to accept the extended hand to work in the interest of Montenegro. It is not a problem to say that something is wrong, but I want to say that only in Montenegro can the appointment of a director cause a storm and cigarette smuggling be relativized. The focus of our citizens is on the wrong things, concluded Abazović.


There is absolutely no doubt that Montenegro is not a victim of Cinese “debt trap” policies as claimed by most (almost all) western media. Previous government and current president of Montenegro (from the same political party) were in charge in Montenegro for more than three decades. During that time Montenegro became a country ruled by mafia. Cigarettes are not the only criminal activity being allowed and protected by Djukanovic and his political party. Montenegrin mafia is well known as very successful smugglers of cocaine from South America. Two cocaine smuggling clans from city of Kotor are literally killing each other on streets of Montenegro and some neighboring countries.