When US and European governments raced to get their citizens and Afghan colleagues out of Kabul this week, Russia was one of very few countries not visibly alarmed by the Taliban takeover. Russian diplomats described the new men in town as “normal guys” and argued that the capital was safer now than before. President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that the Taliban’s takeover was a reality they had to work with. It is all a far cry from the disastrous nine-year war in Afghanistan that many Russians remember from propping up Kabul’s communist government in the 1980s. Unlike most foreign embassies in the capital, Russia says its diplomatic mission remains open and it’s had warm words for the new rulers. Ambassador Dmitry Zhirnov met a Taliban representative within 48 hours of the takeover and said he had seen no evidence of reprisals or violence.