this is bbc news. we will have the headlines and all the main news stories at the top of the hour is newsday continue straight after hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk. i am stephen sackur. a harsh spotlight on two decades of us and nato military commitment in afghanistan. it looks and feels like a strategic defeat. but what does it tell us about the geopolitical balance of power.
at kabul airport has put a harsh spotlight on two decades of us and nato military commitment in afghanistan. it looks and feels like a strategic defeat, but what does it tell us about the wider geopolitical balance of power? well, my guest is russia's ambassador to the uk, andrei kelin. is this reverse for the us and her allies a positive for russia? and is moscow seeking to exploit other perceived vulnerabilities in the west? ambassador andrew kelin, welcome to hardtalk. your government appears to view the overthrow of a democratically elected government in afghanistan by a theocratic islamist militant group as an overall positive. why? oh, i wouldn't say so, and i
never heard such an estimation. you wouldn't say so? that we are glad that it's happened? no, of course not. it is definitely a failure for the coalition to be in afghanistan for 20 years and doing nothing. but on the other hand, there is no idea and no way to dance over the ashes, because we now have to cope with consequences and to limit damage of what has happened. and the damage is enormous, of course. but the reason i assume that you were regarding it as a positive is because your colleague, your ambassador in kabul, dmitry zhirnov, he said, "the mood in kabul can be described "as one of cautious hope. there was a bad regime "which disappeared. people are now hopeful. "they say it cannot be worse, so it should be better." my colleague, ambassador in afghanistan, has said that these initial hours after taliban has entered kabul, he saw that embassy
is safe, that there is order on the roads, but we are still watching what's going to happen. and we have lots of concerns about spill over of terrorists on the territories of neighbouring states in the first place. moscow did for a long time designate the taliban as a terrorist organisation. has that changed ? no. exactly. it is 2003 we designated taliban as a terrorist organisation, which is banned in the territory of the soviet union. and there are lots of reasons for that, because taliban at that time, they were preparing terrorists on their soil and sending them to chechnya. they were supplying chechen rebels and militants with weapons, with money and all of that. of course, they were banned from the territory of the soviet union at that time. so i'm just a little confused.
i mean, your ambassador out there, you know, is saying he's hopeful, he sees it as positive. you're saying, well, we have to be careful because we don't want to see them export violence beyond their borders. are you right now, as a nation, as a government, are you ready to recognise that the taliban is the legitimate government in afghanistan? not at all. it is two different things, but we are maintaining connections for a certain period of time. with taliban, we are talking to them. we have invited them for talks in the so—called enlarged troika format, because this is a part of afghanistan's society, and we cannot disregard it. so this is a reality. we did have talks with them in different formats and of course, we continue to talk with them now. yeah, it's clear that you do talk with them at various levels. is the message from moscow to the taliban that they should not recreate the islamic emirate, as they called it back in the 1990s, that they must create
an inclusive government and that they must work with other parties inside the country? you said it, you're absolutely right, and you said it for me. 0ur point of view is that it should be inclusive, all—inclusive government. and it is only the whole people of afghanistan can determine the future. so we are now expecting what is going to happen. we are analysing the situation but we are not in a hurry to recognise or to take other political steps with. .. but to be clear, because it is not at all clear that the taliban intend to create this inclusive all—party government that you want. you're saying if they do not, russia will not offer them recognition? i'm not saying that. i'm saying that we are watching what is happening. we are going to watch the human rights situation over there. definitely we are going to watch what's happening with the government. and especially we are going... we are concerned and we are watching what's going to happen
with terrorist situation along the borders with the central asian states, whether it will be spill—over, whether it will be spill—over of drugs, criminals and all of that, because this is a major concern for us. you have...obviously russia has very close relationships with a number of central asian states. are you beefing up your military cooperation, even your military troop presence in countries like tajikistan, which, of course, in the past have had borders with afghanistan that have been penetrated by fighters going both ways? tajikistan has about, if i'm not wrong, about 1,200 km of border with afghanistan. and it is difficult to keep it over there. we are supplying them, not only us, but this is organisational security of all countries. we are supplying them with forces. at the moment, we are conducting manoeuvres together with tajikistan over there and with participation of uzbekistan, which is another
border—long country with afghanistan. both of these countries are... ..could be targets for terrorists. leon panetta, a former cia director, says he has no doubt that the taliban remain terrorists. they are going to continue to support terrorists and he, of course, is talking about al-qaeda and various different other radical islamist groups, including islamic state. does russia take the same view? well, we have seen that director of cia has just met with leaders of taliban and he was talking to them. i do not know about what, but it's a fact of life. and what i do understand, although i'm not a big specialist in the middle east, in the middle east, but i can say that taliban is different. they have different wings in it, and very political wings, radicalwings, islamist wings, and so on. what will be the outcome? but it does not represent the whole people of afghanistan. we have other fractions and other people, not only pashtuns, who are leading over there. a final thought on afghanistan.
the un high commissioner for human rights, michelle bachelet, she wants the united nations security council and the member nations to focus like a laser beam on human rights in afghanistan. she says there are credible reports of serious violations of human rights. she even mentioned summary executions, new restrictions on women since the taliban took over. she says, "i call on all states first to create safe pathways "for afg ha n refugees. "second, to unite and make sure there is a fundamental red line "for the taliban over their treatment of women and girls." will russia be very actively supporting that? well, i can say that president macron of france has suggested that permanent members of the security council will be preoccupied in the coming days with the issue of afghanistan, with all sorts of crisis over it, with all parts of crisis over it. human rights is only one of them. humanitarian assistance is the other.
evacuation, preventing of terrorism. so there are many, many aspects of this crisis which is worsening, and we are not alien to the idea the security council will play a role in it. but at the same time, we have formats that have proved important for political settlement. as i say, an enlarged troika in moscow format, especially. do you think that what has happened in afghanistan over the last few days, weeks, months and years shows a fundamental weakness on the part of the united states and its nato allies? in a way, i will say afghanistan has a lot... a long story. we have tried to deal with it and we have taken our lessons of dealing with afghanistan. and of course, you can not deal with this crisis unilaterally. you need... you can't do... you cannot do it in a coalition of forces.
you need to deal with such kind of crisis only when you have all members of the international community aboard. the international community has many deep divisions right now, and i suppose one of the very deepest is russia's extremely difficult relationship with the united states and other western nations. you, as london ambassador, are front and centre in that very difficult relationship. how did you feel when the uk government in march 2021 published its integrated review of security and declared that, "our view of russia is stark and unequivocal. "it is and will remain the most acute direct threat "to the united kingdom and the euro atlantic area." with hurt feelings. we have talked today with hurt feelings. i have read this report. you know, in the �*90s, we tried to build a partnership with nato and the european union and other countries and to get indivisible security as the european security architecture.
we did believe in that, really. i was part of this in trying to establish normal contacts in the relationship with nato. but sadly, we have seen that there is no desire to take into account the interests of russian federation. and moreover, there is a big desire to promote interests in the neighbouring states, just avoiding the russian federation. that was bad. and from this we started to divide and it has come later on to alienation, and grown that alienation, because we still do not see how... you're alienated, are you? you're alienated from the united kingdom government, from the us government? no, there is a division in europe with the enlargement of european union and nato, and the united kingdom is trying to make it deeper, i'm afraid. see, if you want to bridge some of the differences, if you want to send signals that russia is interested in improving relations, why are you ramping up your cyber attacks on the uk and other western countries? and why are you ramping up your spying activities as well?
we are not doing this. it is proved... there is no single proof that we continue cyber attacks. what i have heard, even today, that there are groups of criminals that are doing this. and it is well—known knowledge that most of the cyber attacks are coming from the territory of the united states and the united kingdom. well, with respect, that's not well—known knowledge at all. a whole host of different independent experts reckon that russia is the territory from which many cyber attacks are coming, both state and non—state actors. but very significant, recently, afterjoe biden met your president, vladimir putin, biden warned that time was running out for russia to rein in ransomware groups that were striking the united states and actually causing a great deal of economic damage. and it was interesting to see that, about a week or so later, one of these key ransomware organisations, revil, suddenly disappeared from the dark web. so, russia did appear to be listening after all. uh, you know that what has come out of the meeting
between putin and biden on the issue of cyber attacks, it was the beginning of a serious conversation on the level of experts, meeting between representatives of the security council of two countries, and this is a professional conversation. and i regret that we do not have such a professional conversation with the united kingdom because the united kingdom still prefers to do it via the newspapers and all of that type. if the uk... if you have a quote unquote professional conversation, you're prepared to stop the cyber attacks? is that what you're saying? if there is an accusation, we are prepared to deal with it professionally, but not via the media. and there are context, there is a source how to deal with that. many times... but wouldn't the easiest thing to be, if you truly want to improve relations, just to unilaterally stop these attacks? who says that we...? it is you who are saying that we are doing attacks. do we have sources? do you have proofs on the table? well, if we go through the whole list from the solarwinds,
the attacks that were clearly labelled by us intelligence as coming from your svr intelligence agency. if we go through the attacks, the famous attacks on the democratic national committee, if we go through a whole host of attacks, including some in germany, france, different parts of europe, it always comes back to russia. stephen, i would appreciate to have at least some proofs of this attack. if you have some, provide me it. or some other countries. the us has done some requests to us and we have answered these requests. we have done some requests to the united states. we are working on that. well, i'm just not entirely convinced that however much evidence i provide to you, you're going to acknowledge what you've done, because let's take a different element of spying and russian activity on overseas soil. for example, the skripal poisoning, in which one of your former agents was almost killed by novichok nerve agent in 2018. he mumbles you're continuing to insist that was nothing to do with russia? i say it would be interesting to know information,
at least some information about skripal issues. and we have sent some 5a notes to the uk, to the uk foreign office, just to get something to know about that. but we do not know nothing. and not us, but also your allies and many embassies to whom it was promised to supply more information about skripal issues, they received nothing at all. the thing is, that happened before you moved into the london embassy. and again, as a man who brought a message that he wanted to try to work toward better relations with the united kingdom and other western nations, itjust seems to me that you would have to acknowledge that that represents a continued and severe dark cloud over the relationship. just as, for example, in more recent weeks, the fact that the germans nabbed a british man, david smith, who they say there is clear evidence was spying for russia. you know, these stories, they just continue and continue. and i'm wondering how i can
take your message that you want a better relationship seriously when this is what russia continues to do. i'm trying because i am the ambassador here. i am trying to do this. but i do not insist if the uk is not prepared to let... which minister raab has said just a couple of days ago, he was talking about afghanistan, and he said that it is not comfortable for him to talk to us. he's out of the zone of comfortable, out of the zone of comfort, in talking to russia about afghanistan. if uk is not prepared, we do not insist. well, it comes back to that point that right now the uk sees very many different ways in which russia is not working with the united kingdom and western nations, but actually treating them as an adversary. i mean, the most recent, that dominic raab actually referred to this morning was the russian decision not to renew the journalist visa of a bbc correspondent, of long—standing, sarah rainsford. now, mr raab, the foreign secretary, said that was totally u na cce pta ble. why are you doing it?
because a year ago, there was a refusal to ourjournalists to stay in the united kingdom, and the treatment of the journalists is extremely bad, i should say, here. they are expelled. they are deprived of visiting... they? who? who are you talking about? there was a correspondent of the telegraph agency, of the tass, so—called. what's their name? their name is brovarnik. the name is brovarnik. and the whole of his family has been refused prolongation of visa. his wife was pregnant and she was on the ninth month, and they were simply expelled from the united kingdom after the passports were hold inside of the ministry of foreign affairs or internal affairs, i do not know, for about a year and a half. they couldn't leave because the passport, where it was hold, and they couldn't stay because
they were deprived of visa. and moreover, i will tell you... to state the obvious... let me finish, please. yes. and i have to tell that conditions for our journalists that are staying here, they're really terrible. they cannot visit many events. they cannot open their accounts in the banks because banks are instructed not to do so. i do not know to talk long about it, but you can learn from them. you obviously will take up those particular accusations you've just made with the british government. the bbc, it goes without saying, is not the british government. i'm just wondering why, even if your accusations have any foundation, i have no way of knowing that, but even if they do, is that justification for taking a long—standing, highly respected bbc correspondent and simply saying, "you've got to leave the country"? the bbc is not the british government. why pick on the bbc? in that way, neither of our organisation belongs to the government because they are mainly... the bbc does not belong to the british government. well, we are perfectly aware about money and liaison, the bbc and the government and all of that stuff,
there are books about this. we're trying to cover it right now. just a final thought on whether russia can be taken seriously when it talks about wanting a better relationship with western nations. in the very recent past, russia claimed that it had to open fire on a british navy vessel that was operating near crimea, the crimean coast. now, it was... the british are quite clear it was in international waters. it was not breaking any international law. why did you do that? was it a message that russia, particularly when it comes to ukraine, is prepared to contemplate military action against western forces? the british navy, the british ship, a warship, it was in the territory of a russian federation without warning. which it has to be done one hour at least... besides, it did not observe the laws and rules of russia, which it is obliged to do, according to the maritime convention. absolutely. so, this was not an innocent
passage, which is claimed by your government. the passage was not at all innocent because it was a demonstration, a special demonstration. that they are trying to demonstrate that it is ukrainian waters, which is not at all the fact of life. so, next time, we didn't say that we can fire or whatever it is, probably some parliamentarians did. but next time it will be much, much more difficult for them, because it is not for the first time that british ship has done this thing. let me ask you a very simple question. what kind of russia do you speak for? an authoritarian russia or a russia that really wants to embrace democracy? democracy has different meanings and ways. uk and us just tried to impose democracy, a democratic liberal democracy in afghanistan. it totally failed.
so, there are different ways of doing it democratic. there is... what kind of russia i do represent, it is sovereign russia. russia, which is trying to defend its own interests and it will continue to strengthen sovereignty because it is most important to do in this world. we protect the interests of our people, and we protect our economy and our sovereignty. no mention of freedom or democracy in that answer, but a big mention of protecting your interests and sovereignty. just as we end this interview, i want to reflect very quickly on climate change. there's a big world conference looming in glasgow, cop26, where nations are going to gather to repeat and expand on their commitments to decarbonise. russia, it seems, protecting its sovereignty and its national interest isn't prepared to go along with that message. why not? we are preparing. we are defending our freedom and democracy, and our understanding... your freedom to continue to base your economy on fossilfuels. but that's very short—sighted... no, no, no. ..ambassador? you should better source it.
you are really well prepared for that, but probably you haven't read a lot of materials about it. well, you tell me. i will tell you. this summer our government has installed a number of groups, i think six or something like that, especially dealing with how to diminish carbon layer emission in our country... well, in november 2020, which let us remind ourselves was less than a year ago, your energy minister, alexander novak, said russia has no plans to rein in its production of fossil fuels in the coming decades. "we don't see that we'll achieve even peak "gas production any time soon." this is outdated information because coal is the most poisoning. thinking of that respect, we are going to diminish a number of production of coal of this industry, which is making a lot of... how it is called? green gases and all of that stuff. so, we have quite a good programme out of that. we're not very much in a hurry. you're not in a hurry, no.
the climate change performance index ranks you as one of the slowest and most inadequate member nations in terms of reducing emissions. the country's renewable energy target of 2.5% by 2024, 4% by 2035, is, quote, "by far too unambitious." are you prepared when you get to glasgow as a government to get more ambitious? but we do not want to spring upon the pleas to get more ambitious because targets that sometimes are proclaimed, they are, well, exaggerated, as i can see. you cannot... either, you will not be able to reach them or something. so, we should be realist in that stuff. but we do understand the problem. we work with private industry on that and private industry inside russia is now understanding what is the main target. we are going to be greener, of course, probably not very soon. but we do understand the problem because the problem is striking also upon us. we have 40% of our country at least in the permafrost. now, permafrost will die the first because of worsening of climate.
butjust in a couple of words, you are, on this crucial multilateral issue, prepared to work with the united states, with europe, with all of the global players? i think, yes. ambassador andrei kelin, it's been a pleasure to have you on hardtalk. thank you very much. thank you. hello. it's a mark of how strange a summer it's been when i can tell the truth and say it's been warmer than average for the uk. some of you will look at me like i've gone crazy. the met office say that it's
been about a degree warmer than average this summer so far, warmest compared with average in scotland and northern ireland. you know in london and southeast england, even though it has been a little warmer than average, it's been really quite wet and dull this summer. it is at least now dry, but it is still quite dull with all the cloud we've had. high pressure is close to the uk, keeping things settled friday, the weekend and throughout much of next week. doesn't mean sunny, though, and overnight and into the morning, a lot of cloud will have pushed in from the east. and temperatures will be a little lower than this in the countryside. across scotland, a lot of the cloud will clear during friday, but still keeping some towards the east coast. northern ireland, once any fog patches clear, some sunny spells here. for wales, especially in the west, far southwest
of england, for cumbria, some occasional sunshine, perhaps developing more widely through some eastern parts of england on through the afternoon. this wind direction, though, will continue a feed of cloud and breeze into the coast of eastern scotland and northeast england, keeping temperatures down here at around 15, 16 degrees, whereas elsewhere, mainly 17 to 20. a little higher, though, with prolonged sunny spells across western parts. 0vernight and into saturday, areas of cloud, clear spells, down into single figures where you're clear. and by the end of the night and first thing on saturday, the chance of a few showers running in across southeast england, more especially into kent. so this is how the weekend is shaping up. it is looking, for the most part, dry, barthe chance of that shower towards the far southeast on saturday for a time, variable cloud and some sunny spells around. probably faring quite well for sunny spells during saturday. temperatures, high teens, just a few creeping into the low 20s. a bit of a change for part two of the weekend on sunday. the high pressurejust drifting more towards the northwest, allowing a flow of a little more moist air to run down into scotland, with more widely cloudier skies on sunday, perhaps northern ireland, too, and running in across the eastern side of england, where, still, along that north sea coast, it'll be rather cool in the cloud.
welcome to newsday, reporting live from singapore, i'm karishma vaswani. the headlines. twin bomb attacks at kabul airport, leave at least 60 dead and a hundred and a0 others wounded. the explosion was really powerful. half were held into the water. we carry the wind it on stretchers and hear my clothes are completely bloodied. thirteen us service personnel are among those killed. president biden vows to complete the evacuation mission and track down the perpetrators. we will not forgive. we will not forget. we will hunt you down and make you pay. an affiliate of the islamic state says it