Russia Moves to Lead Afghan Talks as U.S. Prepares to Leave

Russia Moves to Lead Afghan Talks as U.S. Prepares to Leave

Russian state media reported Thursday that an “extended Troika conference on Afghanistan reconciliation” would be held in Doha, Qatar, on Friday — the day before the May 1 deadline for American and NATO forces to withdraw.

The Biden administration says withdrawal is beginning but will not be complete until September, while the Taliban has threatened to resume hostilities against any personnel remaining after Saturday.

The “extended Troika,” sometimes known as the “Moscow Format,” is a reference to the four major powers that ostensibly have a stake in Afghanistan: the United States, Russia, Pakistan, and China, plus the Afghan government and the Taliban. The Russians are making an unusually direct bid to bring India into the Moscow Format as well, including a trip by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in early April in which he visited the capitals of both India and Pakistan to discuss Afghanistan. 

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