The normalization of the situation in Afghanistan is within the competence of all regional powers, including Russia, which in the current realities serves as an encouraging factor. This opinion was expressed in an exclusive interview with RT by the director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Naryshkin. According to him, in this context, the interaction of the intelligence services of the states of the region is of great importance. At the same time, from the point of view of Naryshkin, Western countries should also be involved in the Afghan dialogue, since it was their actions that led to the current situation in Afghanistan. The head of the department commented on the interaction with the CIA and the prospects for limiting cyber forces, and also spoke about the versions of the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
– Let’s start with the most charged international topic – the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. Many different assessments have already been voiced in the Russian media space: ideological, political, strategic. First of all, I would like to ask you how this will affect the methods and priorities of your service in this region?
– Events in Afghanistan have always been the focus of attention of the Foreign Intelligence Service. Due to the strategic position of this country and due to the potential and real terrorist threat that has always emanated from the territory of Afghanistan.
The fact is that after the introduction of American troops and allied troops into the territory of this country, the point of view prevailed in the world community that, thanks to the Americans, the situation would normalize and the presence of American troops and NATO troops was a reliable barrier to prevent the spread of the terrorist threat to the entire Eurasian space. Unfortunately, it turned out that this is not the case.
And after the withdrawal of troops, after the flight of the Americans from Afghanistan, they left behind a ruined economy, rampant terrorist groups, growing ethnic and national contradictions, an increase in drug exports and arms smuggling.
Of course, Afghanistan is the subject of careful attention from the special and intelligence services of neighboring states. Because it all relates to security issues.
There are encouraging factors, primarily in the fact that the normalization of the situation in Afghanistan or the desire to normalize the situation in Afghanistan is already within the competence of all regional powers. And the countries of Central Asia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran and, of course, Russia.
In this sense, the interaction of intelligence services on the partner channel is of great importance. And I must tell you that now we are conducting an intensive partnership dialogue with almost all the countries I have named with our colleagues, with the intelligence services of these countries.
Now, of course, the fate of Afghanistan is primarily in the hands of the Afghans themselves. In addition, as I have already said, all states of the region are interested in the safe and peaceful, stable development of Afghanistan. Of course, it would be very interesting to hear the voice of the Afghans themselves as soon as possible, and not only the Taliban *, but also representatives of other ethnic groups. And such an intensive dialogue between the states of the region is underway. And, probably, the most effective and active platform is the platform of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Quite recently … a joint meeting of the leaders of the CSTO countries and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization took place in Dushanbe. And the focus, of course, was the situation in Afghanistan. But it will be necessary to involve Western participants in this dialogue as well. Their participation, in my opinion, is appropriate. Because they must understand that due to their actions, Afghanistan has suffered significant losses. And their duty is to provide the financial part to restore normal life in Afghanistan, to restore stability and security in this country.
– In the United States, now many accuse the CIA of unprofessionalism and inability to adequately predict the course of events. It was believed that the official government of Afghanistan should have held out for at least six months. From your point of view as a professional, are they really missing something, or is this more an attempt to hang all the dogs on your American colleagues?
– Indeed, our colleagues from the Central Intelligence Agency cannot be envied now. But it’s not just them. The fact is that what happened in Afghanistan – both the hasty withdrawal of troops and the flight of the puppet government of Afghanistan – is all a consequence of the pernicious policy of the United States of America and the line on imposing its own model of social development.
And there are many to blame for this, for such shortcomings. It’s not just CIA employees. This is, of course, the Ministry of Defense and military intelligence, the State Department. This is the apparatus of the presidential security adviser. But, I repeat, the Central Intelligence Agency is part of this larger mechanism. And of course, much of the fault lies with them. But at the same time, I am confident that the American leadership possessed the full amount of information about what is happening in Afghanistan and how events may develop.
They did not take into account their own capabilities. They didn’t want to face the truth, if you will. And the truth was that the United States can no longer fulfill this function of the global hegemon, taken by the United States itself.
President Biden has been saying in the past few weeks that home security is their top priority … Can we expect US policy to become less interventionist in the medium term?
– I would say that such statements by the President of the United States, the leaders of the US administration are primarily a reaction and response to the shameful flight from Afghanistan. Although the words themselves also have their own meaning. After all, words, especially repeatedly repeated, they program the audience and the speaker himself to a certain extent.
But at the same time, we know that often the words of the leaders of the United States are at odds with the deeds. And now we are already seeing the formation of new offensive plans. After all, the United States is trying to maintain influence and control over this space, strengthening its positions in the countries of Central Asia.
– But at the same time, you have said more than once that Moscow considers the CIA to be a partner service. What in this case distinguishes partners from non-partners and how do you personally determine the degree of reasonable trust, mutual assistance and caution?
– The development of the international situation at the present stage gives rise to many new, previously unknown risks. And in such conditions, of course, the interaction of special and intelligence services is important. Therefore, we maintain very broad partnerships with almost all intelligence services in the world. Including the CIA. Although I will tell you right away that the nature, depth and content of our partnerships with the Central Intelligence Agency, with the FBI is not at all the same as such ties and interaction with the intelligence services and intelligence services of the CSTO countries, the CIS, China, India.
– But can you trust the intelligence of a state that openly declares that it sees our country as an adversary, as a “subversive force”? These are direct quotes from the latest US intelligence threat report. Where, by the way, the threat of terrorism is assessed as lower than the threat posed by Russia.
– I have repeatedly said and will repeat that we truly value our interaction with our colleagues from the CIA in the direction of countering international terrorism. This is a real threat indeed. And the results of such interaction are useful – both for our country and for the United States. It seems to me that I, in any case, believe that the changing situation in the world, including the recent events in Afghanistan, gives our American partners a good basis for rethinking their rating of threats.
– Do you think the international community will someday come to declare the existence of cyber forces, their capabilities, and perhaps even introduce some restrictions on the use of, for example, nuclear forces?
– Of course, we follow the development of this area. Because we must not be left behind. We must simply be able to ensure the security of our country in this area. And you know that the Russian state is making attempts at various international platforms to create a system of international information security.
Although, of course, we also see the actions of our partners, who are developing their offensive cyber potential. Both in the United States and in NATO countries. But I can assure you that Russia will ensure security in this area.
– Continuing the topic of scientific progress, I would like to ask a question about your assessment of the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. You have said more than once that you proceed from the fact that it is of natural origin. At the same time, among your colleagues, especially Western ones, there is more and more skepticism about this. What do you associate such uncertainty with? And has your position on the origin of this virus changed over the past few months?
– I must say right away that the final answer to this question must still be given by scientists … Some time ago, the US intelligence community published a report on this subject, which contained very vague, I would say, politicized assessments, which is uncharacteristic for intelligence, for intelligence it is looks very unprofessional. I associate this with the crisis caused by the efforts to politicize the activities of the American intelligence community. As far as our knowledge is concerned, we are trying to keep track of this issue. But we did not receive any evidence that this virus was created in a laboratory. Therefore, we adhere to the version that the majority (experts – RT) of the scientific community adhere to, that this virus was born in nature.
– I would also like to turn to a rather unusual area of activity of your service, namely, to the so-called historical intelligence. You have specialists who are engaged in the search and study of documents that make it possible to trace the course of historical processes. Why is this necessary and is it necessary, first of all, to work with its own population, or is it still part of the intelligence work: obtaining information, some conclusions, which are subsequently put on the table of the head of state for making decisions?
– You are now probably talking to a greater extent about those documents that are contained in large volumes in our archives. And we are working with these archives very carefully. With regard to their declassification – those or other documents that really shed light on certain events of the past.
We have publicized a large number of documents from the pre-war, war and post-war periods. But this period – the 1930s, 1940s, perhaps the beginning of the 1950s – is the most controversial. Disputes about the reasons, the course and the results of the Second World War do not stop. And here we help, of course, our historians to prove the truth that we believe to be. And the documents help a lot …
Almost all countries have suffered and are suffering from this disease: they are trying to manipulate with certain historical events in their favor. After all, history is not a harmless science, and it must be used correctly.