Konstantin Yeliseyev. The situation in Afghanistan: consequences for Ukraine

The tragic events in Afghanistan and the fall of the pro-Western government will undoubtedly overshadow other issues on the informational and political agenda of the world in the near future, at least in Western societies. The deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan has also shown the international community’s underestimation of negative post-withdrawal scenarios.

What will this mean for Ukraine?

  • There is a high risk of Ukraine receding into the background and declining in international attention. The first “victim” will be the Kyiv summit of the Crimean platform on August 23. It is logical that in the minds of the leaders and in the behind-the-scenes talks on the side-lines of the summit, there will not be discussions about ways of de-occupying Crimea from the Russian aggressor, but instead about the horrors of the new Afghan regime and thinking about what to do next with Afghanistan. And, unfortunately, we will obviously hear theories again about the need to strengthen dialogue and cooperation between the West and Moscow in resolving the acute security crisis in Central Asia.
  • The tragic events in Afghanistan will cast a shadow over the results of Zelensky’s long-awaited visit to the White House. The failure of Afghanistan’s status as a special US ally outside NATO virtually negates the symbolism and significance for Ukraine of a similar Biden-Zelensky agreement. At the same time, the Afghan fiasco will stimulate Washington to seek a quick diplomatic and security PR victory, and this should undoubtedly be used by Bankova to advance Ukraine’s security interests, including through the issuing of special ally status and a bilateral security agreement.
  • As a part of proceedings, Zelensky should convene a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council to analyze the events in Afghanistan and their political, security, and economic significance for the interests of Ukraine. It would not be superfluous to analyze the lessons of the Taliban’s lightning-fast military victory over the technically better-staffed, nearly 300,000 government troops for use in countering Russian troops. We should soberly consider the issue of the stability of government institutions as one of the important pillars of state development. It is worth paying attention to the problem of illegal migration from Afghanistan to Ukraine, including through the territories of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
  • Kyiv should increase coordination with its international partners. It is in such critical situations that invaluable experience of collective action is gained, and trust is hardened. And it’s not just about political approaches and assessments. It would be important to work more closely with partners, especially in the EU, on the evacuation of Ukrainian and EU citizens from Afghanistan. Precedents for such work in the hot spots of the world already exist, and in previous years have proved their effectiveness.
  • Bankova needs to free up some intellectual resources, distract from the festive mood before Independence Day and thoroughly assess the risks of Afghanistan for Ukraine. One of the key dangers is that Moscow may well take advantage of this “window of opportunity” and offer Washington and the EU joint cooperation in resolving the Afghanistan problem in exchange for concessions from the “Ukrainian agreement.” Trade in problematic issues and opportunities to resolve them in exchange for its own interests is the Kremlin’s most valuable currency.

Undoubtedly, the Afghan events have become a cold shower for world politics, the consequences of which will be felt for many years. It is quite obvious that today we are all witnessing another shift of emphasis on a scale that goes far beyond the region. The main goal of Kyiv should be to be among the allies and not to turn the solution of the problems of Donbass and Crimea into a bargaining chip in a complex geopolitical game.