A South Ossetian official has met with one of the founders of the Taliban, Abdul Ghani Baradar, according to the Taliban.
In a tweet on Thursday evening, Taliban spokesperson Mohammad Naeem said that Baradar, the Taliban’s First Deputy Prime Minister, met with Aleksey Maksimov, a South Ossetian security official, presumably in the Taliban’s political office in Doha.
According to Naeem, the two discussed ‘issues related to both countries’ as well as regional security and the situation in Afghanistan.
Baradar is a senior Taliban figure who served several years in a Pakistani prison until being released to sign the controversial Doha Agreement with the US in early 2020, around a year and a half before the fall of Afghanistan’s government this summer.
The exact competencies of Aleksey Maksimov within the South Ossetian government are not clear. He was recently appointed as the South Ossetian Foreign Intelligence Service’s representative to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. He subsequently became embroiled in scandal after Russian media reported that there were inconsistencies in his military record.
South Ossetian official sources have so far remained silent about the reported meeting with the Taliban.
Commenting on the issue, Gia Volski, Political Secretary of Georgian Dream and First Deputy Chairperson of the Georgian Parliament, said that ‘any agency of South Ossetia acts on the instruction of the Russian Federation’ and that the reported meeting needed ‘in-depth analysis’.
Following Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008, convincing other nations to follow suit has become a part of the country’s foreign policy. South Ossetia is recognised by Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, and recently — Syria.
South Ossetian military and security apparatus have been largely integrated into their Russian counterparts. On 20 September, South Ossetia and Russia signed an agreement on dual citizenship and on simplified procedures for acquiring Russian citizenship, signalling the further integration of the region into the Russian Federation.
The South Ossetian Foreign Intelligence Service told OC Media they would comment on the issue in 10 minutes. Upon calling them back, they claimed it was the wrong number.
The South Ossetian Foreign Ministry declined to comment.
OC Media has reached out to the Taliban for comment.
For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.