Taliban signs annual deal with Russia to import oil products, gas, wheat

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 4, 2022, in Beijing. Putin and leaders before him have tried to cultivate an image of a prosperous country fortified by strong athletes who beat their international opponents in the games people play. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

The Taliban signed a provisional deal with Russia for an annual supply of petrol, diesel and wheat to Afghanistan.

The ministry of industry and commerce said on Wednesday that the agreement included the annual purchase of one million tonnes of petrol, one million tonnes of diesel, half a million tonnes of cooking gas and  two million tonnes of wheat.

Akhundzada  Jawad, the spokesman of the ministry said the import process was expected to “start soon.”

The Taliban said they would pay Russia in roubles.

The Taliban’s acting minister of industry and commerce, Nooruddin Azizi, who visited Russia last month, said that Moscow had offered the Taliban a discount on average global commodity prices.

Moscow had not commented on the agreement yet. If confirmed, this would be the first major international trade deal for the Taliban since retaking power last year.

With an estimated population of around 40 million, the war-torn nation that was  hugely dependent on donations from the international community is suffering from an unprecedented increase in poverty.

The country remained isolated from the West due to the Taliban’s draconian policies against women, human rights issues, and their refusal to form a representative government.

Afghanistan is also disconnected from the global banking system.

No country, including Russia, had recognised the hardline regime.

However, Russia was among a handful of countries that had kept its embassy in Kabul open.

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