The meeting comes in the backdrop of the ongoing offensive by Pakistan-backed Taliban militia in Afghanistan. The militia has already taken control of several cities and is reportedly advancing towards Kabul, the seat of the internationally-backed Unity government under President Ashraf Ghani.
Why the snub?
While Russia has repeatedly said that India is being informed of all developments in Afghan peace talks, New Delhi has been receiving repeated snubs when it comes to crucial meetings on Afghanistan, a country where New Delhi has huge strategic and economic stakes.
According to political experts, Russian and Indian views on the solution to the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan do not converge. While India is against the establishment of any regime by force and backs President Ghani, Moscow believes the Taliban will counter the Islamic State and sees Ghani as nothing more than a US proxy.
Russia's coordination with Pakistan irks India
Over the past few months, several discussions have been held between Moscow and Islamabad over Afghanistan as both the governments back Taliban. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Pakistan in April also did not go down well with the Indian side.
Russia on India's role in Afghanistan
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, while speaking in Tashkent last month, said that Moscow will continue to work with India and other countries which can influence the situation in Afghanistan. This triggered speculation that India may be included in the upcoming ‘extended Trioka’ meeting. However, that didn't happen.
Besides, a statement by Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s special presidential envoy for Afghanistan, has irked New Delhi. Kabulov, who also oversees relations with India, said, Russia only sees a role for India in “Afghanistan’s post-conflict development” as the country has no influence with the Taliban. He added, "Only countries that have an unequivocal influence on both sides (of the conflict in Afghanistan) participate."
Given the ties between the two nations, India hasn’t issued an official statement over Russia's repeated snubs. When asked, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “Our two countries share a special and privileged strategic partnership. We engage with Russia on a regular basis on Afghanistan.”
Situation in Afghanistan
Since the United States began withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan on May 1, the Taliban has been making rapid advances across the country by resorting to widespread violence. The regime has expanded to cities like Kandahar, Herat, and Lashkargah.
Meanwhile, India has also been calling upon all sections of the political spectrum in Afghanistan to work together. New Delhi has already invested nearly US $3 billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the war-torn country.