Afghanistan seeks boost in energy ties with Russia

In September 2022, Afghanistan signed its first major international agreement to import Russian fuel and wheat

The Afghan Minister of Trade and Industry in the Taliban-run Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), Nooruddin Azizi, told Sputnik on 19 May that his country is looking to buy Russian oil products, and is particularly interested in a contract with Moscow’s Tatneft energy firm.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 14th International Economic Forum in the Kazan region of Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan, Azizi said that Afghan officials held meetings with Russian energy firms last year, including those from Tatarstan where Taftnet is based.

Afghanistan is in need of around four million tons of oil products, some of which are being provided to the country through Iran and Turkmenistan.

The IEA is interested in reaching agreements to import oil from Russian firms, particularly Taftnet.

According to Sputnik, Azizi “expressed hope” that Russia and Afghanistan will “remain in touch” regarding the energy cooperation between the two countries.

Afghanistan has requested energy assistance from Russia on a number of occasions.

In September 2022, Taliban officials signed a provisional deal with Russia to import gasoline, diesel, gas, and wheat to Afghanistan.

The agreement was meant to secure Afghanistan with one million tons of gasoline, one million tons of diesel fuel, and 500 thousand tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and represented the first major international economic agreement signed by the Taliban since its victory over the US-trained Afghan army in 2021.

However, the IEA is looking for an expansion of its energy ties with Russia.

Afghanistan is currently facing a severe economic and humanitarian situation as a result of Washington’s decision to freeze billions of dollars in the country’s foreign reserves in 2021. This pushed the country into an acute crisis, given that the central bank lacks the resources to combat high inflation and food insecurity – which has become rampant.

The situation has also had an impact on energy security.

In early 2023, the IEA signed a multimillion-dollar energy deal with China to jointly exploit Afghan oil reserves north of the country.

However, the Taliban has yet to be formally recognized in the international community over repressive measures against females and a lack of inclusivity in its government. Russia, China, and Iran have repeatedly called on Afghan authorities to remedy these issues.