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Russia and China will not rush to fill Afghan void

Tuesday, September 14, 2021


For both states, a swift takeover of power in Afghanistan is preferable to either prolonged civil war or a power vacuum. Their objectives are more defensive than acquisitive: averting broader regional instability, preventing jihadist expansion in their spheres of influence and in Russia's case, blocking large refugee flows.


  • Afghanistan's relevance to the Chinese-Russian relationship is likely to diminish.
  • Russia and China will gain some leverage from deciding whether Afghanistan retains observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
  • Russia has made it clear it wants no large refugee flows to Central Asia, still less to its own territory.
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