With less than ten days left for the Moscow meeting on Afghan peace, a heated exchange between Russia and the US has made the peace further uncertain. Russia sees the US decision to boycott the meet as a conspiracy to sabotage its initiative to stabilise Afghanistan. The country is also outraged by US claims on Moscow secretly sending arms supplies to the Taliban.
Russia is set to hold a peace conference on Afghanistan which will take place on April 14 in Moscow. Representatives from 12 countries including the US were expected to attend the consultation. However, the US has reportedly refused to take part in the meeting although its regional allies including Afghanistan and India will attend.
Meanwhile, Russia sharply reacted to allegations made by the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Europe Curtis Scaparrotti, accusing Moscow of supplying arms to Taliban. It raised the issue at the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council.
â€œWe were outraged when Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said that we allegedly support the Taliban in Afghanistan. And we raised this issue at the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council,â€ Russian envoy to NATO Alexander Grushko told reporters in Brussels on 30 March.
â€œIâ€™ve seen the influence of Russia of late – increased influence in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban, told Gen. Scaparrotti to the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on 23 March, reported Reuter.
According to Pajhwok Afghan News, On 29 March, during Congressional hearing,
another US General, the commander of the Central Command, Gen. Joselg L Votel said that Russia might be providing some kind of support to Taliban in terms of weapons or other things that may be there.
However, Russia denied the claims, calling the allegations â€œabsurd.â€ Moscow in return accused Washington of forcing it into collision with the NATO.
The Sputnik, a Russia based news outlet, reported on 31 March that Moscow was being forced to assume a confrontational stance in relations with NATO.
â€œWe [Russia] are being practically pressured to assume a confrontational paradigm of relations based on the logic of a military standoff,â€ the report said quoting a statement issued from the Russian Foreign Ministry.
â€œOnce again, NATO showed that it puts its ideological dogmas ahead of real work on resolving global problems,â€ said the statement commenting on the results of the recent Russia-NATO Council meeting at the level of ambassadors in Brussels.
â€œThe conclusion is that only a fundamental change of the nature of the Alliance, which has been hopelessly stuck in its own past, could bring about a chance for improvement of the European security situation,â€ the statement said.