Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban have signed an agreement with Russia to import fuel and wheat at a discount as the country struggles to feed its population and seeks to boost regional trade a year after regaining power.
Items like gasoline, diesel, gas and wheat will be purchased in Russian rubles and at a “special discount,” said Abdul Salam Jawad Akhundzada, a spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, by phone from Kabul on Wednesday. Preparations are underway to start importing the products “within days or weeks,” he said.
The deal, the largest such agreement the Taliban has signed since they returned to power, includes one million tons each of petrol and diesel, half a million tons of liquefied petroleum gas, and two million tons of wheat to be supplied annually until an unspecified date, Akhundzada said. More longer-term deals with Moscow are expected in the future, he added.
The agreement follows a visit to Russia last month by Afghanistan’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Nooruddin Azizi. In June, the Taliban struck a deal with Iran to purchase 350,000 tons of petroleum products to ease fuel prices.
No country has formally recognized the Taliban government however, Russia is one of a few to have kept its embassy in Kabul open. Moscow has also approached several Asian countries to discuss possible long-term oil contracts at steep discounts as US officials continue to try and push a plan that would cap the price of the country’s oil, a Western official told Bloomberg last month.
Afghanistan consumes 1.3 million tons of fuel annually, imported mostly from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran, according to the ministry.