‘We must not let them’: The West tried to deceive Russia and China

Peter Akopov

Afghanistan continues to present surprises – no, we are not talking about the rapid capture of Panjshir by the Taliban, from which external forces tried to make a center of resistance to the new government. The Afghan theme is used by the West for games with Russia and China, and in a primitive tactless form.

It suddenly turns out that a meeting of the G7 is scheduled for today, September 8, to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. It will be held online at the level of foreign ministers and will be hosted by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

It would seem, what is strange here? After the fall of the pro-American regime and the withdrawal of Western troops, Afghanistan really became the number one topic for the whole world, and it is quite logical to want to discuss it in the format of the main Western club. Moreover, two weeks ago, the G7 even held an emergency summit at the highest level (also in an online format), specially dedicated to this country. Let them discuss it more, especially since the West has practically no influence on the situation there.

But the fact is that this time the West wants to speak with those who have it: as Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said, diplomats from more than twenty countries will gather for the consultation.

“To discuss the situation in Afghanistan, the G7 will hold talks at the level of the heads of foreign affairs agencies. Representatives of Russia, China and other countries will also have to attend them.”

Motegi stressed the importance of participation in such a meeting of delegations from Russia and China, “which have a certain influence on Afghanistan.” However, this is something new in world diplomacy – to announce the participation of Russia and China without their knowledge.

The fact of the matter is that neither Moscow nor Beijing are going to participate in a meeting of the Western club, that is, the G7. Because this is someone else’s club. The G8 format with the participation of Russia died in 2014 (it was formally suspended by the West after the Crimea), and China has never entered this “club of the elite.” There can be no talk of any return of Russia to it (which was periodically spoken about by some European leaders, and even by Donald Trump ) – this has been repeatedly stated by both Putin and Lavrov.

Therefore, it is quite natural that even now Moscow reacted, to put it mildly, with surprise. A spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said:

“The partners demonstrate a non-systematic approach. We received signals from Berlin and Paris two days ago regarding a certain meeting, but there was no talk of the“ Seven ”. Then the statement of Tokyo followed – already in the context of the“ Seven. “in Russia, and then non-participation, then participation in the format… This situation demonstrates the partners’ lack of a clear understanding of what they want from themselves and the world around them.”

The problem is not that Russia does not want to discuss Afghanistan with the West – the question is in what format to do this. And this is not a protocol issue at all. We are categorically not satisfied with the invitation to consultations in a Western club: this is not something that suits Russia and China. A week ago, Turkish Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu participated in a similar videoconference with the foreign ministers of the G7 countries – well, this is how Turkey is included in NATO. Summoning Moscow and Beijing for consultations to other people’s clubs is not only useless, but also insulting.

That is why they tried to disguise the meeting as something else – that is, from Berlin and Paris, Moscow was informed about the preparation of multilateral consultations on Afghanistan. And they received preliminary consent, after which an outspoken Japanese minister spoke about the actual format of the meeting.

So now nothing will happen? There are two options for the development of events. First, the G7 is being assembled without Russia and China, but with the participation of other countries, which were also planned to be invited. Surely there are Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and India among them. In what way will the discussion of the Afghan topic proceed then?

Maybe in the one that Josep Borrell spoke about shortly after the emergency meeting of the foreign ministers of the EU countries…. He then said that “the EU should not allow Russia and China to take control of the situation in Afghanistan and become sponsors of Kabul. We must act.” True, Borrell also acknowledged that Europe should “actively cooperate with key international partners that have influence in Afghanistan. Turkey, China, Russia have received new opportunities to increase their influence in Afghanistan. Iran, Pakistan, India also have significant influence in the region.” That is, after the departure of the Americans, it is the Europeans who w-ant to defend Western interests in Afghanistan, but at the same time acting in co-operation with Afghan-istan’s neighbors, influential powers in the region and Russia. An understandable desire, especially considering that the West is practically unable to act independently in the new Afghanistan: the Taliban will perceive the Americans for a long time to come,

However, discussing Afghan affairs without Russia and China, but with the involvement of influential Muslim countries and India, the G7 in any case turns Moscow and Beijing against itself. Because Russia and China will be very difficult to convince that the main topic of the consultations was not discussing options on how best to counter their influence on Afghanistan. Ano-ther manifestation of the policy of containing Mosc-ow and Beijing. Moreover, on the part of those who occupied Afghanistan for twenty years and gave rise to the current crisis.

Therefore, the only constructive option for holding global consultations of all key forces on Afghanistan is to abandon the G7 format and its guests. “Consultations can be org-anized in the G20 format – all the more, this is exactly what its current Italian cha-irman is proposing. Premier Mario Draghi is already t-alks about this with the wo-rld’s capitals – is initially as-sumed that the online meeting will be able to appoint as early as this week or at the end of the next, but in the end it became clear that it is possible only after September 27, when the end of the session. General Assembly of the United Nations, which will act many world leaders.

The G20 is ideal for multilateral consultations of the great powers, because it is precisely their club. It includes not only all the G7 countries, China and Russia, but also India, Turkey and Saudi Arabia – and Pakistan, Qatar and Iran can be invited additionally. Without Iran, it is generally impossible to discuss Afghanistan, and it certainly will not be in the G7 format (Tehran will not go to the “council of the wicked,” and Washington will not invite it).

Russia has repeatedly said that the G20 is the main international format. And the Afghan topic is a good reason to strengthen this annual club, which was originally created to discuss the problems of the world economy (but has long since turned into the most important world summit). Moreover, it is not a fact that you need to hurry so much with an extraordinary event, since the planned one should take place in Rome at the end of October.

True, it is still not clear in what format it will be held: face-to-face or online again. Considering that the world leaders have not seen each other for two years, everyone wants to get together, but in the event of a new wave of the pandemic in Europe, they will have to communicate via video link again.

There is another option for holding consultations on a global scale – or rather, between the West and the East. Here even the G7 can be used if a meeting is organized in the format of a joint meeting of the Seven and the SCO(for a start – the heads of the foreign ministries, and then the heads of state, too). Yes, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization just unites all those for whom the Afghan issue is really a matter of national security – Russia, China, Pakistan, the countries of Central Asia and India. Iran will also soon be transferred from observers to permanent members of the SCO. As a matter of fact, from the entire region, only Afghanistan itself remains as an observer – and only because during the American occupation, Russia and China did not want to see the Kabul authorities as part of an organization whose main goal is to maintain peace in Asia by the forces of Asian states themselves. By the way, the next SCO summit – and in the face-to-face format – will take place in Dushanbe ten days later.

So the West and the East have many opportunities for negotiations and consultations – not only on the Afghan problem. The main thing is that when preparing them, the West does not claim the status of the owner: neither the owner of the club, nor the owner of the casino. Because the one-sided game, like the Atlantic world, is long over, and protocol formalities should reflect the real status of the world’s major players, and not their own idea of their greatness.

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