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Russia Seeks to Reconnect Afgan Banks to SWIFT Payment System

© AP Photo / Bernat ArmangueAfghans wait in front of a bank as they try to withdraw money in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021.
Afghans wait in front of a bank as they try to withdraw money in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.12.2021
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia seeks to have Afghanistan reconnected to the SWIFT global payment system, Russian Special Presidential Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said.
"We are trying to achieve this because this situation creates problems for the United States itself, for the executive branch, which cannot directly provide assistance to the Afghan people, bypassing the Taliban, because SWIFT is disabled. You need to use SWIFT. Yes, it is possible to develop some kind of monitoring mechanisms, where these funds will go," Kabulov said.
After the Taliban* seized power in Kabul in mid-August, Western banks froze billions dollars worth of Afghan and donor funds to deny these assets to the Taliban-led administration. Additionally, Afghan banks were temporarily cut off from the SWIFT payment system.

SWIFT is an international bank information transfer and payment system used by over 11,000 largest organizations in almost all countries.

However, in early December, the US Department of the Treasury allowed American citizens and permanent residents of the country to make private money transfers to Afghanistan.
According to Kabulov, Western countries led by the United States should bear full financial responsibility for the situation in Afghanistan, and Moscow's priority in this matter is humanitarian aid.
The diplomat recalled Putin's words that "those who had been there for twenty years and drove the country to this state, must bear the lion's share of financial responsibility."
"They — the West — froze Afghan assets, this is not the money of the Taliban, but the money of the Afghan people. And Russia now takes a highly moral position, we are already helping Afghanistan with humanitarian supplies," he added
FILE PHOTO: Taliban delegates speak during talks between the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents in Doha, Qatar September 12, 2020.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.11.2021
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The diplomat warned that unless a large-scale economic and humanitarian crises are averted, hundreds of thousands of Afghans will try to flee for Europe this winter.
"The West is afraid of migration flows. And we tell them — as a result of your policy, as a result of the obstacles that you invented when even the UN structures cannot send money [due to the disconnection of Afghan banks from the SWIFT payment system], in the end, you can get a situation, when at least about a tenth of Afghanistan's 23 million population flees to Europe this winter," Kabulov said.
He also called for making Afghan assets available again so that there is no need for hundreds of thousands of Afghan families to leave the country.
"We need to help them so that they do not try to break through all the borders where they are robbed, to break into Europe, because they will break through anyway," he added.
Touching upon assistance to Afghanistan, Kabulov stressed that Moscow does not intend to sell weapons to the new Afghan government led by the Taliban.
"It is an absolute nonsense, I would not even think of such a nonsense," Kabulov said when asked to comment on Western media reports claiming Moscow could supply the Taliban with weapons.
Members of Afghanistan's National Army work near military helicopters, in Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. Since the departure from Afghanistan last year of most international combat troops, Afghan security forces have been fighting the insurgency alone. Figures show that casualty rates are extremely high, reflecting an emboldened Taliban testing the commitment and strength of the Afghan military. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini) - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.08.2021
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The Taliban do not need any weapons, they have enough, the diplomat said, adding that the US left so many military equipment that "it would be enough for two countries." He also suggested that the group could start selling these weapons, "especially portable anti-aircraft systems, which the Americans must have abandoned when they ran away" out of lack of money.

"This ... will fall into the hands of terrorist groups of all kinds from Europe to Africa. Then there will be big trouble," he cautioned.

The Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan on 15 August, following weeks of successful advance towards Kabul while facing little to no resistance. In early September, the Taliban leadership announced the composition of an all-male interim government. The Taliban rule has not been recognised by the international community. Many countries have put forward the main conditions for the recognition of the new government, such as inclusiveness and respect for human rights, including the rights of women.
*The Taliban is an organisation under UN sanctions over terrorist activities.
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