As Western Embassies Retreat from Afghanistan, Russia and China Remain

AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

The regime change in Afghanistan over the weekend has caused the US and its allies to go into full evacuation mode. Western embassies are closed. The US has confirmed its embassy has been evacuated. Only a toe hold of the once vast western presence remains at Hamid Karzai International Airport, where a chaotic evacuation is underway to flee the country.

Sixty-five nations have issued statements urging the Taliban to “to respect and facilitate the safe and orderly departure of foreign nationals and Afghans who wish to leave the country.” But not Russia or China.

According to the South China Morning Post, the Russian and Chinese embassies have no plans to leave Afghanistan, and both countries plan to keep their embassy staffs in place. The article also reported that a Taliban spokesman made a statement assuring “all embassies, diplomatic centres, institutions, places and foreign nationals” in Kabul that they would remain safe.

The SCMP also reported that China has asked the Taliban to respect the safety of its citizens and that Chinese nationals in Afghanistan have been advised to monitor the situation closely, observe safety precautions, and remain indoors.

Finally, the SCMP also telegraphed the following policy point to the Taliban by the Chinese. They want assurances from the Taliban that, in the future, Afghanistan will not harbor terrorist groups seeking to harm China.

Another Chinese publication, Global Times, echoed the SCMP reports that China has asked the Taliban to respect the safety of its citizens and that Chinese nationals in Afghanistan have been advised to monitor the situation closely, observe safety precautions, and remain indoors.

Similarly, Russia does not plan to evacuate its embassy in Kabul. The Moscow Times reported that foreign ministry official Zamir Kabulov told Russian agencies on Sunday, “No evacuation is planned,” adding that he was “in direct contact” with Moscow’s ambassador in Kabul and that Russian embassy employees continued to work “calmly”.  According to the RIA Novosti agency, Kabulov was also quoted that Russia was among a number of countries to receive assurances from the Taliban that their embassies would be safe.  “We received these guarantees a while ago. It was not only about Russia.”

What’s most significant about these statements and actions are the countries not mentioned or involved.