Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan denied on Monday that Moscow was giving its backing to the Taliban in its fight against Islamic State militants who have established a growing presence in the east of the country.
Russia, which in February gave the Western-backed government in Kabul 10,000 Kalashnikov automatic rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition, was discussing two potential helicopter deals and had proposed increasing intelligence cooperation, ambassador Alexander Mantytskiy said.
“We do not provide any assistance to the Taliban,” he told reporters in Kabul, through an interpreter.
Russia’s position has been the subject of much speculation since President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to Afghanistan said last year that its interests “objectively coincide” with those of the Taliban over their common enemy, Islamic State, widely known in Afghanistan as Daesh.
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