Russia Says Afghanistan 'Better' Under Taliban, Claims Ghani Fled With Cash-Filled Cars

The Russian Embassy in Kabul said that Afghanistan is "better" under Taliban control compared to how it was under President Ashraf Ghani, whom the embassy accused of fleeing the country with several cars and a helicopter full of cash, Russia's state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

Embassy spokesman Nikita Ishchenko is quoted in the report as claiming that Ghani fled the country with four cars and a helicopter filled with money.

"The collapse of the regime…is most eloquently characterized by how Ghani escaped from Afghanistan: Four cars were filled with money; they tried to shove another part of the money into a helicopter, but not everything fit. And some of the money was left lying on the tarmac," Ishchenko said.

The Associated Press asked for further details about Ghani's departure, but it was unable to independently verify Ishchenko's claims.

Russian ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhirnov told the Ekho Moskvy radio station that "under the terrorist Taliban it's better than under Ghani," judging the situation in the capital by the first 24 hours of the Taliban's control over the city.

"Right now the situation in Kabul is better than it was under Ashraf Ghani," Zhirnov said.

U.S. President Joe Biden is scheduled to talk about the situation in Afghanistan on Monday afternoon.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Taliban fighter searches bag
Russia's ambassador to Afghanistan claimed the country is "better" under Taliban control than it was under the control of President Ashraf Ghani. Above, a Taliban fighter, right, searches the bags of people coming out of the Kabul airport on August 16. Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

When asked by the Associated Press about how he knew about the specific details of Ghani's departure, Ishchenko said, "Well, we are working here," without offering any more information.

Ghani left Kabul on August 15 as the Taliban swept into the Afghan capital. Media reports suggested that the president went to the neighboring Tajikistan or Uzbekistan, but there has been no official confirmation of his whereabouts.

Kremlin envoy on Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov on Monday described Ghani's flight from Kabul as "disgraceful," adding that Ghani "deserves to be brought to justice and held accountable by the Afghan people."

Moscow's criticism of Ghani, whose government had the support of Washington, comes at a time of heightened tensions between Russia and the United States.

Moscow fought a 10-year war in Afghanistan that ended with Soviet troops' withdrawal in 1989 and has made a diplomatic comeback as a mediator, reaching out to feuding Afghan factions as it has jockeyed with the United States for influence in the country.

It has hosted several rounds of talks on Afghanistan, most recently in March, that involved the Taliban—even though Russia has labeled it a terrorist organization.

Ashraf Ghani
Russian Embassy spokesman Nikita Ishchenko claims that Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan with four cars and a helicopter filled with money. Above, Ghani joins his fellow citizens and foreigners fleeing the advancing Taliban on August 15. Mariam Zuhaib, File/AP Photo