The importance of Afghanistan in Russia’s foreign policy

Putin focused more on public and private companies so that the government would determine their economic policies. His goal has been to turn energy into a tool of foreign and security policy on the former Soviet republics, to prevent the expansion of those countries with NATO and American activity in Central Asia.


After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia’s foreign policy faced chaos. The desire for the West and the United States, laying the groundwork for the investment of Western countries in Russia, was one of the dominant discourses among the post-Soviet government. But with the passage of time, the intensity of Westernize decreased. Besides this, with Vladimir Putin coming to power in Russia, the country’s foreign policy has always been in fluctuations and changes. In the domestic environment, as an authoritarian reformer, Putin has sought consensus in the coordination of institutional and civil actors and the role involved in the foreign policy process and in the external environment, emphasizing objectivity and pursuing an environmental approach, adapting to the requirements of three major systemic variables; The international system paid attention to the international commitments and the structural position.

Principles governing Russian foreign policy

Russia’s foreign policy was in turmoil under Boris Yeltsin. Lack of understanding of environmental developments, lack of balance in planning and decision-making, added to the chaos in foreign policy. Also, the way America and the West looked at this country was that of a bankrupt great power. At the beginning of the 1990s, there were moves to be closer to Asia and the West among Russian politicians; But with the realization that the West and America are not very interested in this relationship, the intensity of this closeness decreased. But when Vladimir Putin came to power, Russia’s foreign policy underwent a major transformation. According to Putin, referring to the foreign policy of the Soviet Union and the Yeltsin era, Russia can regain its lost position in the international arena by adopting a policy based on reality. On this note, he plays a positive game with all sides, no fruitless confrontation, emphasis on pluralism, focus on effective mechanisms, linking economy and power, strategic opportunism, vulnerability, discarding ideology in foreign policy, preferring interests over value. , selective interaction, creating broad alliances (without difficulty), respecting international norms, strengthening regional and international institutions and actively participating in it, which is considered one of his pragmatic principles, in his foreign policy decisions. They insisted more. Besides this, although during the eight years of Putin’s presidency, deviations have also been seen in his pragmatic principles. According to some analysts who looked at his foreign policy from various aspects, it can be said that at times Putin’s foreign strategy is under the influence of geopolitical sensitivities, Moscow’s strict confrontation with Kiev over Ukraine’s membership in NATO, and the quarrel with Washington over the missile defense system. Ballistic, the diplomatic dispute with London following the death of Aleksandra Litoni Nenko in 2006, is one of the problems of his time. But with all that, Putin tried to turn Russia into a pragmatic actor in the foreign arena.

On the other hand, Russia, especially during the second term of Putin’s presidency, tried to pay due attention to strengthening this country as a great power in international politics through various means, including the energy lever, along with the reconstruction of the economic infrastructure. In fact, energy is the main variable in transforming Russia from an underdeveloped country into a hegemonic actor in the field of global politics. Putin focused more on public and private companies so that the government would determine their economic policies. His goal has been to turn energy into a tool of foreign and security policy on the former Soviet republics, to prevent the expansion of those countries with NATO and American activity in Central Asia.

Political-security features of Afghanistan for Russia

According to the doctrine of Russian security policy, Moscow is ready to eliminate any kind of threat against the national interests of this country by any possible means of security, ranging from increasing military cooperation to military intervention. The presence of threats from Afghanistan against Russia’s interests and security at various domestic and regional levels has made Russia more sensitive to this country (Afghanistan) and has forced the Russians to work hard to reduce the waves of threats originating from Afghanistan. Besides this, Russia has taken an active diplomacy towards Afghanistan by deviating from its previous policies. The policy of this country towards Afghanistan is security policy and the goal is stability in Afghanistan. Therefore, there are many terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan and it can be a real threat to Russia, which the Russians have always been worried about.

Threats from Afghanistan against Russia

According to the Russians, the events in Afghanistan have a direct and indirect effect on the situation in Russia. This phenomenon is caused by the developments that have occurred in this country in the past few decades. Things that seriously threaten Russia’s national security are terrorism and extremism, drug production and trafficking in Afghanistan.

Terrorism and extremism Central Eurasia is one of Russia’s peripheral regions and is considered as the strategic depth and the third security ring of this country. Central Asia is located in the southern borders of Russia and the intermediate point between this country and Afghanistan. Afghanistan has a common border with the countries of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. The developments and events arising from Afghanistan have deep effects on these countries as well. Russia, which is in the neighborhood of these countries, was also affected by this event. On this note, Russia has been trying to secure its borders and prevent the spread of insecurity and crisis to that country, in addition to securing its regional interests abroad.

Drug production and trafficking

Drugs have been recognized as a harmful scourge in the world by the United Nations Security Council (United Nations Security Council, 2009). Afghanistan is also one of the countries that has a high hand in the field of opium production, which provides about 75% of the world’s opium. Drug trafficking and sale provides the ground for the continuation of terrorist activities in the region. The income obtained from drug trafficking in 2012 reached 717 million dollars, which is an impressive figure (Ministry of Combating Narcotics, 2013). The export of drugs to other countries, whose main destination could be Russia, has created concerns for this country. Therefore, it is recognized as a serious threat in the security policy of this country by Afghanistan


Russia’s foreign policy in the post-Soviet era was in turmoil. But with Putin’s coming to power, tremendous changes took place in Russia’s foreign policy. Putin, as an authoritarian reformist inside, and in foreign policy, pragmatism and de-ideology, interacted with great powers in order to revive the power of Russia and the lost international prestige of that country. On the other hand, Russia, one of the regional powers, has been involved in Afghanistan’s interactions for a long time. Politically, Russia wants to ensure stability in Afghanistan. Therefore, it has always supported the central government and has been trying to consolidate diplomatic relations. In terms of security, the threats from inside Afghanistan include terrorism and extremism, drug production and trafficking, which the Russians consider a threat to Russia’s national security and have always worried them. Therefore, the Russians are trying to expand their investments in Afghanistan in order to contain the threats.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of South Asia Strategic Research Center (GASAM)

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